‘We've got to fight it’ - Allotment holders' anger at cockerel ban

Allotment owners in Dereham are fighting to save their chickens and cockerels after the town council

Allotment owners in Dereham are fighting to save their chickens and cockerels after the town council gave them notice to remove some of the birds. John Buck (left) and Tony Hunt (right). - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Allotment holders have voiced their anger over a council’s decision to ban cockerels from the plots - and vowed to do all they can to protect them.

In October, Dereham Town Council agreed to give cockerel owners an extra year to resettle their roosters from council-managed allotments.

“We’re not letting this go,” said allotment holder Anthony Hunt, 71.

“They mean everything to us. They’re like our pets. We’re here two or three times a day looking after them,” said Mr Hunt, who presented a petition on the cause with his friend John Buck to the council last year. 

Allotment owners in Dereham are fighting to save their chickens and cockerels after the town council

Tony Hunt's cockerel. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

“If necessary, we’ll go to the national papers and TV, because we’ve got to fight it,” he added, saying that he had not been aware of any complaints made about the birds. 

Mr Hunt also defended keeping more hens than the council’s permitted six, invoking a 1950 government act. 


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The Allotments Act of 1950 states that the lawfulness of hens on the land is subject to “any provision to the contrary in any lease” signed by the plot holder.

Town clerk Tony Needham said the six-hen limit had always been in place.

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Mr Needham said cockerels had never been permitted, but the council had noticed them “creeping in” on recent allotment inspections.

Dereham town clerk Tony Needham said the keyfobs would cost about £1,000. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Dereham town clerk Tony Needham said the keyfobs would cost about £1,000. Picture: Matthew Usher.

“As it happens, in the last two weeks we have had a complaint from somebody who said they’d never bothered to complain before, because live and let live, but the cockerels were keeping them awake and they don’t like it,” said Mr Needham.

Asked whether it would not be reasonable to allow the current cockerels to live out the rest of their lives on the site, Mr Needham said: “That would be easy, but how do you know if that chicken is the same chicken that was there last year?

“We can’t fingerprint them or anything. One could die and they’d put another one in. We’re not going to know, if they look the same.

“We can’t do an ID parade for the cockerels. That’s the trouble - it could go on forever.”

Mr Needham added that unless the council were to revisit its decision, if cockerels were not removed by October, then tenancies would not be renewed, though he hoped that would not be necessary.

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