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Defiant in row over two hens; Pensioner, 86, facing eviction over his birds.

Byline: Sam Wood

A PENSIONER who was told to get rid of two chickens he kept in his back garden to combat rising food prices insists he will keep them.

Ronald Lewis, of Dennison Crescent, Birtley, Gateshead, has had the birds for several months and eats their eggs every day to save money.

In August this year The Journal revealed that Mr Lewis was facing possible eviction over the animals, which he keeps to cut down on his food bills.

Gateshead Housing Company, which runs the houses for Gateshead Council, told the 86-year-old he had to get rid of his chickens as they breached health and safety rules and neighbours had complained about them.

But Mr Lewis, who has eight children and 27 grandchildren and has lived in the house since 1981, refused and months later the matter is still rumbling on.

The retired engineer said: "They have written me several letters asking me to come to their offices, without telling me why I need to, but I'm 86 years old and its cold and icy outside. This is the season of goodwill to all men, they should be coming to see me.

"I want this brought to a sensible conclusion more than anyone."

Mr Lewis, who lives with his wife Elizabeth, 82, also has three beehives and grows his own cabbages and other vegetables in their small garden, in an effort to be more self sufficient in the face of increasing food costs. Every morning he has eats the eggs produced by his birds for breakfast.

He said: "I am just trying to make good use of my garden as I wish to use it.

"There is the matter of global warming and home food growing which this company is trying to prevent me from practising.

"I have told my MP and there is also the European Court of Human Rights, which I have not gone into but I will if they make it necessary."

A Gateshead Housing Company spokesman said: "We have had a number of complaints about these chickens from people in the area.

"We will be sending someone round to see Mr Lewis over the next few weeks to sort out the issue.

"It is just against the tenancy rules to keep livestock, it states clearly in the contract that they are not allowed to be kept, there is a health risk with keeping these birds.

"We would hope to resolve this soon, hopefully the chickens can be rehoused in a nearby farm or something, which has been the outcome when we have had similar problems in the past."

We would hope to resolve this soon, hopefully the chickens can be rehoused in a nearby farm

CAPTION(S):

STANDING FIRM Ronald Lewis with the two chickens which the council want him to remove from his council house.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2008
Words:471
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