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Brent Council u-turn on evicting Tommy tortoise from his Mapesbury garden

PUBLISHED: 12:41 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:41 21 April 2020

Tommy the tortoise who was facing eviction from his Mapesbury home. Picture: Jane Townshend

Tommy the tortoise who was facing eviction from his Mapesbury home. Picture: Jane Townshend

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A 61-year-old tortoise has been saved from eviction from his garden home in Mapesbury following a community outcry.

Tommy the tortoise with owner Jane Townshend. Picture: Jane TownshendTommy the tortoise with owner Jane Townshend. Picture: Jane Townshend

Tommy, a spur-thighed tortoise, was given three weeks to find a new home by council officers after a dispute about a shared garden in Mapesbury Road.

Jane Townshend accused Brent Council of “holding Tommy hostage” after the couple were told to remove their pet within 21 days or they would come and remove it.

A Brent spokesperson did not say why interim neighbourhood services manager Mary Whitfield sent the email on April 2, but this week said it has “no intention of evicting the tortoise”.

“I screamed when I got the email. Tommy’s lovely, such a cutie ” said Ms Townshend.

Tommy the tortoise who was facing eviction from his Mapesbury home. Picture: Jane TownshendTommy the tortoise who was facing eviction from his Mapesbury home. Picture: Jane Townshend

“My dad got Tommy for my nan years ago in Petticoat Lane when she lived in Cricklewood. She was in her 90s and said ‘you can take that bloody thing home’ so he bought it back to us. He likes being picked up and stroked and likes eating dandelions.

“He hibernates in the winter which freaks me out a bit.

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“Apparently he’s a nuisance. He’s not noisy or dangerous or frightening.

Tommy, the 61-year-old tortoise was facing eviction from his Mapesbury garden. Picture: Jane TownshendTommy, the 61-year-old tortoise was facing eviction from his Mapesbury garden. Picture: Jane Townshend

“We think the council were clutching at straws for something to appease the neighbour.”

A dispute erupted after Ms Townshend complained that her neighbour had built a fenced partition down the centre of the council-owned back garden and the neighbour was told to remove it.

Then Ms Townshend received the council email which said: “You are required to remove the animal and hutch within 21 days as the council does not give consent for the pet and hutch to remain, complaints have been received to the council for it to be removed and if it’s not removed within this timescale the council has no option but to organise the removal.”

Ms Townshend said the council verbally agreed she could keep the tortoise in 2015.

A Brent Council spokesperson said: “As we have reassured Tommy’s owner, we have no intention of evicting the tortoise.

“We continue to encourage the neighbours to mediate to resolve their ongoing dispute.”

The Times has been unable to contact the neighbour involved for comment.


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