Chicken owners have expressed their anger and sadness after a decision to ban the birds from a village allotment. 

Sproughton Parish Council decided, after receiving reports and concerns relating to rat activity on the allotments in Burstall Lane, that all chickens at the site would have to go. 

This, however, has upset allotment owners who say they were not consulted on the matter and leaves them with an issue of where they are going to keep their chickens.

East Anglian Daily Times: Some of Neil's chickens on the allotmentSome of Neil's chickens on the allotment (Image: Submitted)

Neil Sanders, an allotment and chicken owner, said: "There was no consultation from the Parish Council with us regarding the ban on chickens.

"This has come out of the blue, and I feel it could have been better handled than how it was.

"There's quite a few very upset people now, one young lady with a five year old daughter who has been told they are going to lose all the chickens that they love.

East Anglian Daily Times: Neil SandersNeil Sanders (Image: Submitted)

"People have already had to start looking around for new homes for their chickens."

Allotment owners are currently trying to find out whether the site is a statutory allotment, meaning it falls under the Allotment Act 1950, which states that tenants have the right to keep livestock on their allotments.

Mr Sanders continued: "I go over to my allotment every day, it's a big part of my routine.

East Anglian Daily Times: Neil's allotment with his chickensNeil's allotment with his chickens (Image: Submitted)

"I wake up, go and feed my chickens and let them out, and then go back in the evening to put them away.

"I would really miss having them over there.

"They provide so much and if the decision has been made due to a health risk and rats, then I don't think getting rid of chickens is the solution."

Sproughton Parish Council said it understood the decision to ban all livestock was causing "significant distress". 

It said despite best efforts the presence of chickens was identified as a contributing factor due to feed and waste provided "ample food sources for rodents".

A council statement said: "Additionally, there have been breaches of the tenancy agreements by a number of allotment holders who have failed to comply with our requests and have been selling and distributing eggs for purposes other than personal use. Our allotment regulations clearly stipulate that any produce, including eggs, should not be sold or distributed commercially. This breach undermines the community-focused spirit of the allotments and has necessitated stricter enforcement of the rules.

The health and safety of all allotment holders are our top priority. Rodents pose health risks, damage crops, and create an unsanitary environment, which can affect everyone's enjoyment and use of the allotment spaces. By removing livestock, we aim to reduce these risks and improve the overall conditions of the allotments.

"We understand and deeply regret the emotional and practical impact this decision has on those who have kept chickens for many years. This was not an easy decision, and it was made after considering all available information and possible alternatives. Our goal is to create a safer, healthier environment for all allotment users while ensuring compliance with the tenancy agreements."

East Anglian Daily Times: William the cockerel has lived on the allotment for the past six years William the cockerel has lived on the allotment for the past six years (Image: Submitted)

Elaine Shoulder, 68, also owns chickens. She said: "My partner and our next door neighbour have had chickens for years, between us we have 20 chickens.

"It's ridiculous in this day and age, especially with rising food costs, to get rid of a valuable food source.

"We want this decision overturned, these chickens are our pets.

East Anglian Daily Times: Some of Elaine's chickens on the allotmentSome of Elaine's chickens on the allotment (Image: Submitted)

"They are expecting us to get rid of all our chickens."

Suffolk County Councillor Christopher Hudson was informed of the issue and contacted the parish council.

He said: "The lack of consultation is the problem at the heart of this.

East Anglian Daily Times: Councillor Christopher HudsonCouncillor Christopher Hudson (Image: Suffolk County Council)

"You do need to listen to both sides of any argument, and I don't think allotment owners have had that opportunity.

"I understand there will be a meeting between the council and allotment owners to try and resolve and clarify issues and come to an agreement."

This paper understanding a meeting is scheduled for next week to discuss the issue.

East Anglian Daily Times: Some of Neil's chickensSome of Neil's chickens (Image: Submitted)