Pensioner, 97, threatened with a £100 fine for feeding birds in her garden receives support from MPs and campaigners after her local council doubles down
- Anne Seago, her son and neighbours have accused of ‘anti-social behaviour’
- They were threatened with a £100 fine over feeding the birds in her own garden
A 97-year-old retired music teacher threatened with a fine for feeding birds in her garden has received a flurry of support amid council warnings she risks committing a ‘criminal offence’.
Anne Seago, her son and two neighbours have been accused of ‘anti-social behaviour’ and threatened with a £100 fine after a neighbour complained that pigeons and seagulls were causing a nuisance.
The local council insists it has acted correctly by sending a warning letter and said it could take further action, adding: ‘Failure to comply with a community protection notice (CPN) is a criminal offence.’
Breaching the notice can lead to a maximum punishment of five years in jail and an unlimited fine. But MPs and older people’s campaigners have urged Fylde Council in Lancashire to back down and have talks with the bird-loving residents instead.
Frail Mrs Seago, who has lived at her home in Staining, near Blackpool, since it was built in 1982, says one of her pleasures in life is sitting in her conservatory watching sparrows and robins eat seeds on her bird table.
Anne Seago (pictured) her son and two neighbours have been accused of ‘anti-social behaviour’ and threatened with a £100 fine
Her son Alan, 77, who has now stopped feeding the birds, branded the council’s letter ‘menacing’ and fears the stress of the situation could ‘finish her off’.
Dennis Read, of campaign group Silver Voices, said: ‘They are taking a hard-line approach which is not appropriate. To suggest that a 97-year-old would be hauled before a magistrates’ court and possibly imprisoned if she continues with this behaviour is absolutely ridiculous.
‘This isn’t criminal behaviour in anybody’s book and I think it’s developing into a PR disaster for the council.’
Mr Read called on the authority to instead ‘mediate’ on ‘what is essentially a neighbour dispute’.
Tory MP Sir John Hayes said: ‘It’s very sad when you think of an old lady engaged in a simple pleasure being pursued by officialdom in this way.
‘It does seem odd they would seek to interfere in what someone does in a private space, engaging in a hobby that millions of people enjoy, including myself, which encourages birdlife when wildlife is threatened and a lot of bird species are in decline.’
The warning letter was sent to Mrs Seago, her son and near-neighbours Ian Wright, 67, and his wife Kath, 66, by Fylde Council.
The Chief Executive of Fylde Council Allan Oldfield, who earns up to £93,699-a-year from taxpayers
Tory MP Sir John Hayes (left) said: ‘It’s very sad when you think of an old lady engaged in a simple pleasure being pursued by officialdom in this way’
The authority insists it was acting correctly and that ‘hundreds’ of birds had been seen around their homes and roosting in the area, which Mr Seago rejected as ‘rubbish’.
READ MORE: Council who sent ‘menacing’ letter to pensioner, 97, warning she faces £100 fine unless she stops feeding the birds in her garden refuse to back down
The council said it has received allegations from four people about ‘excessive bird feeding’ since 2016 and officers visiting the street had seen ‘hundreds of pigeons’ near the properties.
It added: ‘This has led to the accumulation of bird feed, which has the potential to attract vermin and spread disease, and the build-up of bird faeces, which can cause nuisance and damage to property.’
Mr Seago said: ‘I don’t believe the council’s claim. At the most there’s been 50 or 60 pigeons but normally there’s a couple of dozen at most. They don’t nest round here.
‘There are all sorts of birds who come to feed. There’s even a heron knocking about. And we have no pigeon muck on our property which there would be if there were so many.’
He added that he has not put food out for three weeks since the letter threatening the fine arrived in the post but that birds still flock to their street.
A Fylde council spokesman said: ‘The act of ‘putting out food for the purpose of attracting wild birds to feed’ in such a large amount on a regular basis has a detrimental effect on neighbouring residents.
‘Birds roosting and defecating is a public health nuisance and has the potential to cause disease.
‘If it continues, the council could consider serving a community protection notice.
‘Failure to comply with a CPN is a criminal offence. The council has acted in response to complaints from other residents in the neighbourhood.’
The council said it has attempted to ‘engage’ with the Seagos and Wrights ‘on several occasions’.
Frail Mrs Seago, who has lived at her home in Staining, near Blackpool, since it was built in 1982, says one of her pleasures in life is sitting in her conservatory watching sparrows and robins eat seeds on her bird table
Anne Seago in the garden of her Blackpool home. From left to right – Cath Wright, Ian Wright, Alan Seago and Anne Seago
The spokesman added: ‘Contact could not be established with the occupants of one property, the occupants did not respond to written correspondence or requests for telephone contact.’
Pensioners’ campaigner Baroness Ros Altmann said: ‘This appears to be a case of Nanny State-identifying busy bodies gone bonkers.
‘I find it very upsetting that a council would pick on an elderly person supported by a number of neighbours and side with the one or two neighbours who have complained.
‘This is blighting the life of a frail old lady who doesn’t deserve to be vilified. I don’t understand – is it against the law to feed birds in your garden?
‘One of the neighbours who complained has allegedly been harassing her. ‘(Yet) the council seem to have taken their side over the lady.
‘I feel there is something wrong with the way the law is being interpreted.
‘For a 97-year-old lady to be accused of anti-social behaviour for feeding pigeons is beyond my comprehension.’
Fylde Council say some of the residents who have complained live on different streets from Mrs Seago.
Mrs Seago and her son say one neighbour, Darren Horne, has been harassing them by playing loud punk music and banging his bin lid.
Mr Horne denies playing loud music but admits banging the bin to ‘scare away birds’.
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