A COUNCIL refused to cut back an overhanging tree that is blighting a pensioner’s life - but sent a team of four men to hang a plastic owl in its branches instead.

As reported by The Northern Echo recently, Sydney Hodgson is living a gloomy existence in the shadow of a giant sycamore which towers over his Darlington bungalow.

The tree has caused a number of problems for the disabled 81-year-old, who struggles to manoeuvre his wheelchair around his property due to the amount of leaves shed by the tree.

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Mr Hodgson also claims the tree’s roots have damaged water pipes and the wall around his property and says his wife Margaret – who is now in a home – suffered a head injury after slipping on leaves.

Unable to do so himself, Mr Hodgson has paid a small fortune to clear his garden and pays regularly to have his car cleaned due to it being covered in droppings from birds nesting in the sycamore.

Mr Hodgson has repeatedly begged Darlington Borough Council to trim the tree and was astounded when they refused, instead offering to install a plastic owl in the tree as a bird deterrent – if he paid for it.

After reading about Mr Hodgson’s plight in the Echo, a neighbour donated an owl, which was then taken away by the council, allegedly for a risk assessment.

A team of four men were then dispatched to hang the plastic bird in the tree – where it has proved such a poor deterrent that a pigeon has built its nest right next to it.

Frustrated Mr Hodgson said: “They came mob-handed - four men with four machines and they worked half the day to hang it from a branch and then left as though they’d done a good job.

“So I’m left with a plastic owl and no better off. The leaves, some of them as big as dinner plates, will still fall on my home and block the drains, my wheelchair ramp and the gutters and shut out the light into my living room.

“I’ll still have to pay to get them taken away - and most likely my car will still end up covered in bird muck because that owl is bloody hopeless.”

He added: “All I wanted was the tree to be cut back and instead I got a plastic owl - I see its stupid face every time I look out of the window.”

A spokesman for Darlington Borough Council suggested that Mr Hodgson turned to charities for help in clearing his garden, adding: “We hope the owl has the desired effect of deterring birds from nesting in his tree.”