doc

A 13-YEAR-OLD pigeon enthusiast was reduced to tears after Gravesham Council told him he must tear down his bird shed.

Reece Stone, of Bourne Road, Gravesend, has learning difficulties but became passionate about pigeons four years ago, a hobby which has also helped boost his grades at school.

However the heartbroken teenager has been forced to keep his birds in baskets after the council said his family didn’t have permission for the 24-foot garden shed they built last December.

Dad Keith Stone, 51, told News Shopper: "He doesn’t know what to do with himself.

"The boy was crying on the day we were told we had to take this shed down - other people nearby don’t have permission for theirs.

"Reece has trouble with reading, writing and counting.

"But looking after these 70 or so birds helps him with all those things.

"He said,’ I don’t know what to do with the pigeons. I’ll have to kill them if they won’t let me keep them.’

News Shopper: Thirteen-year-old pigeon racer told he has to get rid of birds by Gravesham Council

"I said, ‘if they won’t let you keep them then we’ll set them out in the Civic Centre and then they can sort it out.’ I’ll probably end up going to prison for it."

Mr Stone has been amazed at the dedication his son has shown to the birds.

He said: "He gets up at six o’clock and takes them out and cleans them.

"Now the conditions they’re in, in these baskets, it’s not fair. You wouldn’t treat a dog like that."
The father-of-four is anxious about his son’s emotional state.

He said: "Reece used to not talk to anyone. He would shrug his shoulders and not engage with people but it’s really bought him out of himself.

"His school has even written letters to the council saying how his work is suffering because of the situation.

"He’s been a member of different pigeon racing clubs and it helps him to get to know other people."

News Shopper: Thirteen-year-old pigeon racer told he has to get rid of birds by Gravesham Council

A Gravesham Council spokesman said: "The tenant had no permission to build a structure to house pigeons at either council property where they have been tenants.

"After receiving several complaints after the construction of the latest large outbuilding, the council advised the tenant that they were in breach of their tenancy.

"Keeping up to 12 pigeons is allowed under the tenancy provided they are kept in a purpose-built loft and provided permission is granted.

"The tenant has been told that they must remove the outbuilding by January 14 or face legal proceedings.

"The council has sympathy for the tenant but has to bear in mind the number of animals proposed to be kept and that effect of others."