Newtown neighbours' court case over noisy cockerels

Image caption The Cockerel crowing was unpredictable and high-pitched, the court was told

A man who complained about the crowing of his neighbours' cockerels had a sign up saying "keep your hens out or else they will be shot", a court heard.

Roger Morgan, 48, of Newtown, Powys, said he did not make the sign, while he denied exaggerating the noise, saying it was "like a police siren".

The cockerels' owners are appealing against an abatement notice issued by the council last year.

The court heard of a history of neighbour disputes. The case continues.

Llandrindod Wells magistrates heard there had been a history of conflict between Mr Morgan's family and Roy and Valerie Rylands, who own the cockerels.

'Boundary dispute'

The court was told that hens had been kept at the Rylands' property in Bwlch y Fridd, Newtown, since 1944.

In recent years the two families had been involved in a number of arguments but Mr Morgan denied he had any animosity towards the Rylands.

In the late 1990s there was a boundary dispute between Mr Morgan's father and the Rylands over a piece of land between the properties.

A separate incident resulted in a sign being placed in Mr Morgan's garden saying "Keep your hens out or else they will be shot", which Mr Morgan said might have been put there by his sister.

In 2006, Mr Morgan's father was convicted after his dogs worried the Rylands' livestock, the court was told.

Mr Rylands had also complained about alleged flytipping in 2007 as well as accusing Mr Morgan of assaulting him, an allegation Mr Morgan denies.

Following his complaint, Mr Morgan was asked by Powys council to compile a three-week diary, keeping record of noise problems. Instead he filled the form in retrospectively, the court heard.

It was suggested he fabricated the diary but he said "I was starting to get to the end of my tether. I was getting fed up with the noise."

He said he did not know if he filled it in straight away out of temper but said the cockerels were crowing every night and "it would be the same if I did it the right way or the wrong way".

'Police siren'

Mr Morgan described the noise as "like a police siren".

He said one of his sons had been in tears because he could not sleep and he had been told his son had fallen asleep at school.

Mr Morgan said "We have had our disagreements in the past", but said his complaint against the Rylands had nothing to do with that.

He said he worked as a coach driver, sometimes arriving back home in the early hours, and slept three to four nights a week in a spare room.

Mr Morgan said he drove schoolchildren and "naturally I'm getting to the stage where I can't do my job".

He said the noise was continuous, the cockerels competed by crowing and the noise was sometimes "penetrating through the walls".

Mr Morgan admitted he opened the window wider to record the noise with monitoring equipment set up by environmental health officers.

Paulinus Barnes, acting for the Rylands, said their analysis of the recordings showed the window was actually shut but was deliberately opened when the cockerels started crowing.

Later, Mr Barnes opened the case for the Rylands.

He said there was no statutory definition of noise nuisance and it was an "entirely subjective" decision.

Mr Barnes said the essence of the Rylands' appeal was that the cockerels had not caused a nuisance.

'Overestimate the impact'

He said the overall picture of the relationship between the two families gave "sufficient grounds" for the court to be "at least suspicious" of Mr Morgan's evidence.

Noise expert Melville Kenyon, who gave evidence on behalf of the Rylands, said the council's recordings had been made on the bedroom windowsill.

This, he said, was an "unusual place" to take measurements because "none of us sleep with our head on the windowsill".

The effect he said could be to "overestimate the impact".

He said he could not say there was no evidence the nuisance existed but based on the evidence he would not be happy to conclude there was a nuisance.

The court also heard from Roger Swain, a friend of the Rylands, who had lived in the village for eight years.

Asked if the Rylands' cockerels caused a nuisance, he said: "None whatsoever".

He added: "I feel extremely privileged to live where I am. Should a cockerel crow, a pheasant crow or any other animal make noise, that's part and parcel of the countryside. I have kept chickens and cockerels myself and basically, I cannot see what the problem is."

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