'If people don't like the birds, they should move back to the city!'
PUBLISHED: 18:53 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:28 12 March 2019
A 77-year-old man who was told to stop feeding the birds in his garden has put up a sign telling his neighbours to 'go back to the city' if they dislike wildlife.
Eric Goleby, from Hickling, said he has been feeding his feathered friends for more than 40 years to honour his late wife and has labelled the complaint by his neighbour as “ridiculous”.
Mr Goleby – who tops up his array of bird feeding stations every couple of days – has been issued with a warning letter from his landlords, Victory Housing Trust, since the complaint.
The letter, sent to him on January 28, asks him not to place trays of feed on his lawn as it could attract rats and other vermin to the area.
The 77-year-old said he was upset by the warning as he was feeding the birds to honour his wife Sally who died in June last year.
Mrs Goleby, who was 69 when she died, had been disabled for more than 20 years.
Mr Goleby said: “Sally loved nothing more than looking out of the front window and seeing all the wonderful birds perched on the lawn.
“She struggled to get out of the house so being able to bring the wildlife to her brought a big smile to her face.”
Victory Housing Trust managing director Christine Candlish said: “We are working with Mr Goleby and his neighbours to resolve this situation for everyone.”
The landlords had previously threatened the 77-year-old with legal action and eviction for feeding his birds in 2015.
Mr Goleby, who has lived in Hickling all of his life, has claimed he is doing nothing wrong and said he will keep topping up his feeders.
“I have built up quite a friendship with the birds and to hear them chirping away makes me very happy,” he said.
Hickling Broad is a year-round haven for wildlife, with the area holding a significant percentage of the UK population of common crane as well as important breeding numbers of bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
Since receiving the complaint from his neighbour, Mr Goleby has moved his feeding stations into his back garden.
He said: “I have compromised and moved my feeders off my front even though it means I can’t see the birds as clearly as I once could.
“If people don’t like the birds they should move back to the city.”