‘You’ve got to be kidding...’

A goat

A goat

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A DISABLED Wigan tenant has found a natural answer to his monster weeds.

Former Heinz worker Arthur Fairhurst – who is confined to an electric wheelchair after losing a leg to chronic diabetes – is fed up of asking when Wigan and Leigh Housing (WALH) will tackle the thicket growing through the paving outside his one-bedroomed bungalow in Harydbutts.

But when Arthur was offered a young goat to munch the greenery, he says that WALH told him: “You must be kidding!”

He claims staff told him that they had a strict policy of no exotic pets in place.

Angry Arthur insists that there is nothing exotic about a common or garden goat, which are famed for eating anything within munching range.

He also believes it is the type of green answer to the prickly problems that the eco-minded housing department should be supporting.

Mr Fairhurst says that the garden weeds were last cut back by the charity Help the Aged a full year ago. And he had to pay for the privilege.

He says that with the well-publicised Government cuts programme now starting to bite, WALH will have to start thinking about more unusual ways to cut maintenance costs for their council house estate of 22,000 homes.

Arthur said: “I have a friend with a farm who keeps goats. He suggested I take one to clear the weeds and keep them down and I thought, ‘Why not? A natural lawn mower’.

“When I asked the housing they said that they would write to me with the official line but they didn’t think it would be possible because the rules were no exotic pets.

“Exotic pets? I am talking about a goat here, not a zebra or a giraffe.

“I am left wondering what a person in a wheelchair, who can’t get down on his knees with the shears even if he wanted to, is expected to do?

Wigan and Leigh Housing said that there wasn’t a blanket ban in place on keeping such “pets.”

Vicky Bannister, director of housing management, said that as a tenant, Mr Fairhurst will need to request permission if he would like to keep a goat.

She said: “One of our members of staff will be contacting him to go through the process of requesting permission.

“They will also look at the area where the goat will be kept and take advice on the suitability of the space from the RSPCA.

“We would then also need to speak to his neighbours to see if they have any objections.”