Angry allotment holders have hit out at a decision to ban cockerels from their plots.
Donna Scott, who owns an allotment at East Hartford in Cramlington, has launched a petition against the decision by Cramlington Town Council to remove all cockerels from the allotments, and has already received 97 signatures.
“Our allotment has been in our family for decades, and has seen three generations of my family growing veg and housing chickens and cockerels,” she said.
“This issue is very close to my heart. I have three cockerels currently, so much is at stake.
“The allotments have housed cockerels for hundreds of years and this has never been an issue in the past.
“Cockerels are needed in the allotments for the protection of hens from predators, as well as for breeding.
“Residents of East Hartford put up with a lot of noise issues from duel carriageways, the new fire station, as well as the noise from aircraft – the noise from allotment cockerels has never been a problem.
“It is a natural noise that has become part and parcel of life here in East Hartford.
“The decision made is a death sentence to birds which are healthy and have a secure home.”
Coun Barry Flux said: “I have been presented with a petition with a large number of signatures, which shows the strength of feeling from residents of East Hartford about this matter.
“I believe that the town council should at the very least consider the implications of this level of support and consider looking for an amicable solution and reconsider their stance.”
But Cramlington Town Council has defended its actions, which its say are in line with guidance from Environmental Health.
Town clerk Bob Baker said: “Our tenancies allow allotment holders to keep hens but not cockerels, because cockerels are considered by legislation to be a statutory nuisance.
“If we receive a complaint, as we have done in respect of cockerels at East Hartford, we ask the allotment holder to remove them. If they refuse we refer the matter to Environmental Health who have powers to impose a fine of up to £5,000.
“It is always a difficult situation but the council must follow due procedure or risk itself being in breach of the law.”