Duck issue ruffles a few feathers

The Highway Nursery in Eyemouth show their support for 'Ducky', who is facing eviction from his owners (James Anderson) allotment.
The Highway Nursery in Eyemouth show their support for 'Ducky', who is facing eviction from his owners (James Anderson) allotment.

last week we carried a front page story about James Anderson’s fight to keep his duck on a patch of land at Eyemouth allotments and the issue continues to rumble on with James taken aback by the interest the story has generated and Scottish Borders Council continuing to insist permission was never granted for the bird to live there.

The tale of Ducky and James was picked up by national newspapers and as word has spread far and wide about the possibility that the Indian runner duck may soon be without a home, more people have shown their support.

Despite SBC insisting they never gave the go ahead for Ducky and other ducks to live in avary on the allotments, members of the public are backing James by signing petitions which are now with businesses on both sides of the border.

The original petition James launched was available for people to sign at Eyemouth Post Office and gathered 182 signatures and now the Post Office, Occasions, Trotters and Berwick-based Tustain Motors have taken fresh copies.

But speaking to ‘The Berwickshire News’ during a visit to Highway Nursery with Ducky on Monday, James couldn’t believe the furore the situation had caused, adding that all he wanted was a meeting for the matter to be resolved.

“I don’t want to fall out with the council at all, I just don’t understand why they have gone from being what I saw as extremely positive to now telling me they don’t want the ducks there anymore.

“I’m a member of Eyegrow but I wrote to SBC on a personal level, not as someone on the committee.

“I’m really shocked at all the fuss Ducky’s caused, it was meant to be a light hearted story for Christmas so I can’t believe so many people are interested.

“I went into the Co-op in Eyemouth on Sunday and got a big cheer which took me completely by surprise.

“To my knowledge there have been no written or verbal complaints about me having the ducks on the allotment and local businesses are really supporting me.

“I’d like to thank everyone for getting behind me and I’m hopeful that there’ll be a meeting in the near future to sort it all out.”

Although she wasn’t aware of the extent of the situation until reading it in the paper last week, Highway Nursery’s manager, Cheryl Duggan said it would be a real shame if Ducky had to move away from the area as she’d been a big hit with the children there.

She commented: “It’s all well and good the children reading about animals in books but there is no subsitute for them getting to experience the real thing.

“They’ve become quite attached to Ducky and have followed her progress from her being just a few weeks old.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to learn more about animals and it would be a real shame if Ducky had to move away as we were thinking about to taking the children to the allotment to see her there next year. I know a few of the mums have signed the petition to show their support.”

Scottish Borders Council received a letter from James on December 13 saying he would be grateful if there “could be a second glance” at the keeping of his ducks and Councillor Michael Cook, maintaining that James was never given the green light to house the ducks at the allotment, said he should have waited for an official response before pursuing the matter any further.

“James has woven together one of those Yuletide animal stories we all love. Unfortunately, those parts of his yarn, which make it the traditional story of ‘plucky innocent’ standing against ‘unreasonable authority’ are just that……..a yarn.

“At no stage was James or anyone else given authority to keep anything but hens on the site. This much is confirmed by his own written representations.

“Indeed, I understand that when the Council finally received something from James it was entitled ‘Request for permission to house runner ducks overnight at Eyemouth allotments’ and it came with a petition which states among other things ‘….I would be grateful if there could be a second glance at the keeping of my ducks’.

“I know members of the EyeGrow Committee, and it’s clear that not only were they not party to James’ publicity initiative, but that trying to turn the site into a farmyard isn’t compatible with their ambitions for an allotment site.

“Generally, the Council doesn’t permit poultry on its other allotment sites, because their purpose is horticulture not animal husbandry.”