Fri. Apr 19th, 2024
alert-–-garden-wars-in-suburbia:-couple-who-feed-seagulls,-foxes-and-wildlife-in-their-re-wilded-garden-accuse-next-door-neighbours-‘the-glums’-of-‘waging-a-vendetta’-against-themAlert – Garden wars in suburbia: Couple who feed seagulls, foxes and wildlife in their re-wilded garden accuse next door neighbours ‘The Glums’ of ‘waging a vendetta’ against them

A couple threatened with prosecution by council officers for feeding birds in their re-wilded garden have blamed next-door neighbours dubbed ‘the Glums’ for waging a ’27-year vendetta’ against them.

Stephen Atkinson-Jones, 71, and his wife Caroline, 64, say they love wildlife and have let trees and shrubs grow freely to enhance nature in what they call ‘studied neglect’.

But in stark contrast next door, Keith Edwards, 77, and his wife Pauline have a beautifully manicured suburban front garden – with symmetrical styled hedges, mini ornamental trees and flowers.

Mr Atkinson-Jones has said it was Mr and Mrs Edwards who complained to a local council about the daily bird feeding routine that was attracting seagulls – widely condemned as ‘flying rats’ in seaside towns because of the nuisance they cause.

For more than 20 years he and his wife have thrown pieces of dog biscuits into the courtyard at 8am to feed gulls and about 10 of them swoop down to gratefully pick up their breakfast before flying off again.

Stephen Atkinson-Jones, 71, and his wife Caroline, 64, say they love wildlife and have let trees and shrubs grow freely to enhance nature in what they call 'studied neglect'

Stephen Atkinson-Jones, 71, and his wife Caroline, 64, say they love wildlife and have let trees and shrubs grow freely to enhance nature in what they call ‘studied neglect’

Mr Atkinson-Jones has said it was Mr and Mrs Edwards who complained to a local council about the daily bird feeding routine that was attracting seagulls

Mr Atkinson-Jones has said it was Mr and Mrs Edwards who complained to a local council about the daily bird feeding routine that was attracting seagulls

Next door, Keith Edwards, 77, and his wife Pauline have a beautifully manicured suburban front garden - with symmetrical styled hedges, mini ornamental trees and flowers

Next door, Keith Edwards, 77, and his wife Pauline have a beautifully manicured suburban front garden – with symmetrical styled hedges, mini ornamental trees and flowers

Mr Atkinson-Jones said that the couple' love all wildlife' and 'support the wildlife' along with their other neighbours who also feed the gulls.

Mr Atkinson-Jones said that the couple’ love all wildlife’ and ‘support the wildlife’ along with their other neighbours who also feed the gulls.

Living half a mile from the coast in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, there has always been a large seagull population in the area.

The couple also feed other birds and wildlife around their property and claim many of their other neighbours do the same.

Mr Atkinson-Jones said: ‘We love all wildlife – we are very lucky around here because we support the wildlife and actually so do all the other neighbours, they all feed the gulls.

‘We’ve got woodpeckers, owls, jays and we feed all of them – doves, magpies, jackdaws.’

But a complaint to Rother District Council has put a stop to the daily feeding routine.

Last August Mr and Mrs Atkinson-Jones were visited by an environmental health officer about a complaint they were ‘causing a nuisance due to persistent bird feeding’.

The pair agreed to stop feeding the birds, yet further complaints and evidence of ‘persistent bird feeding and nuisance’ have resulted in a formal ‘community protection warning’ under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

A letter from Phil Smith, from the council’s community protection team, stated they would be issued with a Community Protection Notice if they continued to leave food on their property to feed birds.

The couple also feed other birds and wildlife around their property and claim many of their other neighbours do the same

The couple also feed other birds and wildlife around their property and claim many of their other neighbours do the same

The pair agreed to stop feeding the birds, yet further complaints and evidence of 'persistent bird feeding and nuisance' have resulted in a formal 'community protection warning'

The pair agreed to stop feeding the birds, yet further complaints and evidence of ‘persistent bird feeding and nuisance’ have resulted in a formal ‘community protection warning’

Last August Mr and Mrs Atkinson-Jones were visited by an environmental health officer about a complaint they were 'causing a nuisance due to persistent bird feeding'.

Last August Mr and Mrs Atkinson-Jones were visited by an environmental health officer about a complaint they were ‘causing a nuisance due to persistent bird feeding’.

For more than 20 years he and his wife have thrown pieces of dog biscuits into the courtyard at 8am to feed gulls

For more than 20 years he and his wife have thrown pieces of dog biscuits into the courtyard at 8am to feed gulls

He described their actions as ‘causing excessive noise and excrement on a neighbouring property’.

Failure to comply with the notice is a criminal offence ‘for which you could be prosecuted’, they were warned.

Under the terms of the warning, Mr and Mrs Atkinson-Jones can only use bird feeders designed for birds smaller than a pigeon.

The warning mirrors the case of a 97-year-old woman and her son threatened with a £2,500 fine.

Anne Seago, 97, and son Alan, 77, were told they face possible action to force them from their privately-owned property if they continue putting out food for birds in their garden near Blackpool.

The Bexhill-on-Sea bird feeding dispute originally began in 2016.

It went to ‘mediation’, involved another neighbour too, and Mr Atkinson-Jones says they stopped the feeding after about two years.

He told of how they re-started it when things ‘quietened down’, but a further complaint last year has prompted the council action.

Under the terms of the warning, Mr and Mrs Atkinson-Jones can only use bird feeders designed for birds smaller than a pigeon

Under the terms of the warning, Mr and Mrs Atkinson-Jones can only use bird feeders designed for birds smaller than a pigeon

A letter from the council's community protection team described the couple's actions as 'causing excessive noise and excrement on a neighbouring property' (Pictured: Front garden of Stephen and Caroline Atkinson-Jones)

A letter from the council’s community protection team described the couple’s actions as ‘causing excessive noise and excrement on a neighbouring property’ (Pictured: Front garden of Stephen and Caroline Atkinson-Jones)

The Bexhill-on-Sea bird feeding dispute originally began in 2016 and went to 'mediation', during which Mr Atkinson-Jones says they stopped the feeding after about two years

The Bexhill-on-Sea bird feeding dispute originally began in 2016 and went to ‘mediation’, during which Mr Atkinson-Jones says they stopped the feeding after about two years

It was alleged Mr Atkinson-Jones, who owns five properties rented through a letting agent, was illegally running a business from home

It was alleged Mr Atkinson-Jones, who owns five properties rented through a letting agent, was illegally running a business from home

Other complaints have concerned smoky bonfires in the couple's garden, trees and bushes from their property over-hanging a road and feeding animals such as badgers

Other complaints have concerned smoky bonfires in the couple’s garden, trees and bushes from their property over-hanging a road and feeding animals such as badgers

The couple have blamed next-door neighbours dubbed 'the Glums' for waging a '27-year vendetta' against them

The couple have blamed next-door neighbours dubbed ‘the Glums’ for waging a ’27-year vendetta’ against them

Mr Atkinson-Jones said: ‘I really feel we are being bullied here. How can it be anti-social behaviour and unreasonable behaviour when only one person with a history of complaining against us complains?’

He said this was just the latest in a long series of complaints to local authorities by Mr and Mrs Edwards during almost three decades as neighbours.

It was alleged Mr Atkinson-Jones, who owns five properties rented through a letting agent, was illegally running a business from home.

Other complaints have concerned smoky bonfires in their garden, putting a window back in an outbuilding that had been boarded up, trees and bushes from their property over-hanging a road and feeding animals such as badgers.

Mr Atkinson-Jones said:  ‘Some of these have been recurring over the years and not just a one-off.

‘It’s all petty but it feeds into your wellbeing. There is a horrible feeling of unease – you are just waiting for them to report you for something. It upsets my wife a lot.’

Commenting on Mr and Mrs Edwards, he said: ‘We call them the Glums because that’s what they are.

‘They are decent people, they look after their property, they are not rough, they are not difficult with anybody else – they just dislike us and how we live.’

Mr Atkinson-Jones said his neighbours lived in a ‘modern house’ he described as a ‘cross between Versailles and Chessington World of Adventure’.

Retired music teacher Anne Seago (right), from Blackpool, has been threatened with a £2,500 fine for feeding birds - she is pictured here with her son Alan, 77

Retired music teacher Anne Seago (right), from Blackpool, has been threatened with a £2,500 fine for feeding birds – she is pictured here with her son Alan, 77

A sign that reads 'Grand reopening soon! All birds welcome.' Alan Seago, a retired car salesman, said the latest threats were causing his mother 'more stress'

A sign that reads ‘Grand reopening soon! All birds welcome.’ Alan Seago, a retired car salesman, said the latest threats were causing his mother ‘more stress’

The most recent letter from Fylde Council, shared with Anne on 22 March 2024, states that she is being 'unreasonable' and having a 'detrimental effect on residents and their properties'

The most recent letter from Fylde Council, shared with Anne on 22 March 2024, states that she is being ‘unreasonable’ and having a ‘detrimental effect on residents and their properties’ 

A complaint from a neighbour that she was attracting pigeons and seagulls prompted the council to issue a 'written warning' last November (above) and threaten a fine

A complaint from a neighbour that she was attracting pigeons and seagulls prompted the council to issue a ‘written warning’ last November (above) and threaten a fine

He added: ‘We like old property, we believe in wildlife, we like attracting the bees and the butterflies, but they like the manicured parochial suburban municipal park look.

‘The more you get into suburbia, the more people think everybody should think and behave the same.’

Mr Edwards told : ‘I am not prepared to comment.’

When given a summary of what Mr Atkinson-Jones had said, Mr Edwards said there were ‘inaccuracies’ but refused to clarify.