A parrot which whistles sectarian songs has survived a neighbour’s attempt to silence it. Pensioner Denise Dickson demanded that the noisy bird and its owners be evicted for anti-social behaviour. Denise, of Whitburn, West Lothian, claimed that she’d been subjected to years of “sectarian ramblings” from next door’s African Grey, Rio. She complained about the bird’s deafening renditions of “The Sash” to her neighbour’s landlord, West Lothian Council’s noise enforcement officials and Lothian and Borders Police. But the 65-year-old has now learnt that all her efforts had ended in failure.
The housing association who rent out her neighbour’s home ruled that the parrot’s musical performance is not sectarian. The council’s “noise police” said the constant squawking wasn’t loud enough for them to intervene. The prosecution was abandoned at Livingston Justice of the Peace court on Thursday after JP Tom Smith ruled that there was no case to answer. Julia Fitzpatrick, managing director of Horizon Housing Association, said they had investigated the complaint thoroughly. In a letter to Denise, she admitted that the tenant’s parrot “verbalises on a range of topics”. She wrote that the parrot’s repertoire included “The Sash” – a song considered by some to be a sectarian song, but not by others.
She added: “The association have confirmed that this song is not, of itself, considered legally to be sectarian, as this depends on context. In this context – a bird maintained in a private home – the association do not intend to take any action. We have no record of complaints about noise nuisance or sectarian comments from this parrot – or the tenants – from any of the immediately neighbouring tenants. Therefore, the Association do not have evidence on which we can reasonably act to withdraw permission for the tenant to keep the parrot or to issue a warning under the anti-social behaviour policy.”
The parrot’s owner Mary Smillie, 52, has angrily rejected suggestions that her pet was a pest and claimed she now keeps the bird indoors. Denise said she was bitterly disappointed at the housing association’s decision not to slap an ASBO on the bird. She said: “That parrot’s been the bane of my life because of the racket it makes. Every time the sun came out it was put out in the garden and it screeched and whistled its way through its entire repertoire. It’s so bad I’ve become a prisoner in my own home. I’m not happy with the way the authorities have handled this so I’m lodging a complaint with the Public Services Ombudsman.”