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A vegan pensioner refused to fight a mice infestation, describing the creatures as her “pets”. The council was forced to get involved and a fine has now been issued.
Margaret Manzoni, of St Osyth, Essex, viewed tackling the infestation as being against her ethics.
Tendring District Council made an order in April this year for resolving the issue.
The 73 year old has now admitted in a hearing on October 6 to charges of failing to comply with two separate notices.
One came under the Environmental Protection Act and the other under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act.
The infestation became so bad that it “forced neighbours to move out”, according to a council spokesman.
He said: “While some building works were carried out by the council, food and shelter continued to be provided by Manzoni for the mice – leading to an overpowering smell and which forced neighbours to move out…
“Tendring District Council offered Manzoni alternative accommodation but, she considered the mice her pets, said they would not go to her neighbours because she looked after them, and refused to take action stating it went against her ‘ethical beliefs’.
“This led to the first prosecution, since which despite continued regular visits by the environmental health team nothing has changed.”
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In the end, the council had “no choice” but to prosecute again.
Manzoni this month attended a hearing at Colchester Magistrates’ Court.
Here, she was told that while the court “respected her beliefs as an ethical vegan, others saw mice as vermin”, the council added.
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The authority also noted that, according to the court, “impact of the infestation on neighbours meant inaction was not appropriate”.
Manzoni was fined £1,500 for her own inaction.
The court also awarded the council costs of £2,395 and imposed a victim surcharge of £150.
Michael Talbot, Tendring District Council Cabinet Member for the Environment, describe the prosecution as “a real last resort”.
He said: “Despite repeated visits, offers of help, legal notices, and the previous court action, nothing has been done by the property owner…
“We respect people’s personal beliefs and how they choose to live in their homes, but when this has a detrimental impact on others then we have no choice but to take the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s quality of life.”
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