Gang of ‘free-roaming hooligan sheep eat flowers in gardens and use the lawn as a loo’, claim locals
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A gang of free-roaming ‘hooligan’ sheep have terrorised a village for nearly a decade by keeping residents up all night, destroying their gardens and using their lawns as a loo. Residents say they can’t get any sleep, can’t grow any flowers and have had enough of the consistent menace of the unruly flock.
They have now demanded local shepherd Jeremy Awdry take action and accused him of failing to control his rampaging woolly pests ever since the estate in Whitecroft, Gloucestershire was built in 2014. Mr Awdry, 74, has hit back at his critics, saying his sheep have the right to graze anywhere in the Forest of Dean under ‘common of mast’ laws originating in the Middle Ages.
But locals say the forest boundary is marked by a bollard 30 metres down the road from the estate and claim the sheep have no right to roam there. And they have now said they have suffered long enough.
The residents of Kidnalls Drive estate also say they can’t grow flowers because they get eaten – and any plants they do grow have to be protected by wire mesh and stacked on top of bricks so the sheep can’t reach them.
Jeff Beveridge, 65, has lived on the estate since it was first built and says residents are considering launching a petition to get a cattle grid built to prevent the sheep getting through. He said: “We can’t grow anything out the front. There are only two bushes so far that the sheep won’t eat – lavender and rosemary.
“In the front of everybody’s house the developers put escallonia, a nice flowering shrub, and the sheep ate that. They’ll eat anything. If the lambs are distressed and they can’t find the ewe, their mother’s looking for them and both of them will be bleating all the time.
“We can hear them at night and in the early hours of the morning they’ll be here.”
Councillor Richard Boyles, who represents Newnham ward on Forest of Dean District Council, during a meeting last week called for a cattle grid to be installed so the sheep can’t get through from the main road. Retired university lecturer Dr David Collier, 69, has lived on the estate for two-and-a-half years and backed the cattle grid proposal.
He said: “When we were looking at the housing estate we were surprised that nobody had any flowers in their front gardens. We came in November 2020 and in the early spring we heard sheep and we saw lambs in our front garden which was initially rather sweet.
“But then we realised. We had a little tree that got nibbled which we’ve taken down and obviously there’s muck left on the drive, grass and path. It’s a first world problem but nonetheless it does have an impact and they do cause damage.”
Cedric Ansermoz, a 72-year-old retired power station worker, has lived on the estate since May 2021.
He said: “When we first moved in we had a couple of bushes by the front door. They got eaten. We had a few plants too. They disappeared. The sheep don’t ask. It’s frustrating. You have to tolerate them but it’s just frustrating you can’t have a decent garden.
“The other obvious problem is the mess they make. It would make a difference having a cattle grid.”
Expelled for sheep roaming free
Mr Awdry has now been expelled from the local association of graziers for not keeping his sheep within the Forest’s boundaries. Mick Holder, general secretary of the Forest of Dean Commoners Association, said: “The boundary for the common is on the edge of Whitecroft.
“The estate is outside of the boundary and no one is allowed to bring sheep there. In emergencies we will help to deal with sheep that don’t belong to a commoner but we can only do that so many times.
“With Jeremy it’s getting a bit too long in the tooth now. It’s a regular event and we’ve got plenty enough to look after our own bloody sheep without looking after his.”
Mr Awdry denied the estate was outside the grazing boundary and said his sheep caused no damage to people’s gardens. He said: “The association says it’s outside the boundary but I don’t think it is actually.
“The sheep have got the right to wander. It’s not a lot of people complaining. It’s only one or two causing a lot of trouble. The sheep are hardly ever there. Can you see any damage there? No.
“They might not just be my sheep. They may be other people’s as well. It’s not just me who keeps sheep. Other people keep sheep.
He added: “No one has complained to me directly. If someone asked me to move them, I’d move them.”