HUNDREDS of people have backed a campaign to keep cockerels on Hemsworth allotments after a ban from the town council.
The Express first reported in March that Hemsworth Town Council had ordered allotment holders on Grove Lane to get rid of their cockerels or face losing the plots that some have tended for 50 years.
And now around 1,000 people have signed the Save Our Cockerels petition, including five independent town councillors who have called for a special council meeting to discuss the issue.
The town council sent out letters banning cockerels from the allotments after a complaint that is believed to be from a resident of a new housing development. Eviction notices have been issued to those who have ignored the letters, and allotment holders are said to be living in fear of losing their plots.
Stan Wilson, independent councillor, has objected to the ban from the outset and is refusing to get rid of the two-year-old cockerel he reared from a chick, Bert.
He said: “I think what they are trying to do is frighten people. I am petrified of losing my allotment – I am retired and I love it. Keeping cockerels is just a bit of pleasure - Bert is like a pet to me.”
The town council have said that allotment holders can keep hens but noisy cockerels must go.
Another fan of cockerels, Jack Bashforth, 64, said: “One person has complained but these allotments have been here 150 years.
“Cockerels are loud but they are not 80 decibels and are no louder than a passing car.
“The letters and warnings from the council have been frightening some of the old blokes to death.”
Tony Upson, chairman of the town council, has defended the move and said that cockerels were banned by the Allotment Act 1950 - but that is being disputed.
Coun Upson said the ban applied to all council allotments but the Grove Lane site was the only one having problems.
The chairman said cockerel owners had been given three months to comply with the ban, and only one person had not complied. He added that there had been more than one complaint.
Coun Upson said: “At the end of the day, is it fair to have your sleep broken from 4am by cockerels? Is it people or poultry that come first?
“One tenant told me he had been responsible for removing 50 cockerels from the site, people had brought them to him. That tells you the extent of the problem.
“What I can’t understand is why people want to inflict this noise nuisance on others. We should all live together.”
He added that Hemsworth had changed from being a small village into a town and that “times change”.