Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pensioner Crys Fowl as Housing Bosses Target His Chickens; Feathers Fly as Ronald Bids to Keep His Birds

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pensioner Crys Fowl as Housing Bosses Target His Chickens; Feathers Fly as Ronald Bids to Keep His Birds

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Wood

APENSIONER who bought hens because of rocketing food prices could be kicked out his home. Ronald Lewis has been keeping two chickens for the last three months and eats their eggs every day to save himself money.

The enterprising 85-year-old also has three bee hives to make honey and grows cabbages and other vegetables in the garden.

But Gateshead Housing Company has warned Mr Lewis that keeping the chickens breaches his tenancy agreement and poses a health risk.

A spokesman said there was no immediate threat to evict him, but that was the ultimate punishment if he did not get rid of the birds.

Mr Lewis said he was determined to go all the way to court to keep his chickens in the garden of his home in Dennison Crescent, Birtley.

The retired engineer said he was determined to be more self-sufficient.

Mr Lewis, who has eight children and 27 grandchildren, said: "It's absolutely farcical. The chickens are not doing any harm. I had a visit from a young man from the council who told me I had to get rid of them so I sent him away with a flea in his ear.

"Then they sent me two letters saying I was in breach of my tenancy. None of my neighbours have ever complained to me about them.

"With food prices rising all the time and extra production needed, it is ridiculous that the council are telling me to get rid of these birds. They should be encouraging people to be more self-sufficient.

"The tenancy agreement says we are not allowed to keep horses and cows which I can understand, but these chickens are causing no harm at all. They don't even make any noise. I just don't understand what all the fuss is about."

Mr Lewis said his wife Elizabeth, 82, and the whole family have become attached to the chickens.

He said: "Elizabeth has been upset by all the fuss this has caused, she doesn't want to lose the birds either. …

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