Parish council has egg on its face

NDET 19-10-12 MC 6'Stefan Darmola happy that he can now keep his chickens on Eckington allotments.

NDET 19-10-12 MC 6'Stefan Darmola happy that he can now keep his chickens on Eckington allotments.

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An allotment holder says a council has ‘fallen foul’ of the law after taking him to court for keeping chickens on his plot.

Stefan Darmola, 62, of Moss Rise Place, Eckington, was threatened with eviction from his allotment in School Street – for keeping four hens.

Mr Darmola had been keeping the birds for around a year when he was warned by the parish council, which owns the site, to get rid of the chickens or vacate the plot.

Mr Darmola,founder of Eckington Allotment Society, gathered a petition in support of his hens from the 16 other plot holders and neighbours also wrote to the council to say chickens had been kept on the site for around 100 years.

But the council said Mr Darmola, who has had an allotment for eight years, had breached his lease and issued him with court proceedings.

Mr Darmola said: “The council spent £400 of rate payers money taking me to court.

“It’s a complete waste of money and it could have been much better used for other things.”

At the pre-court hearing the judge ruled in favour of Mr Darmola and national guidelines stated he could keep hens.

Chairman of Eckington Parish Council Brian Ridgway said animals were not allowed on the allotment site but accepted the judge’s ruling that chickens were birds, so could stay.

He added: “We did feel we had a duty to uphold our policy for other allotment holders.

“We wanted to protect the site from animals.

“The court ruled in favour of the 1950 act and the council has backed off.”