Family ‘gutted’ after neighbours chop tree in half in dispute over noisy birds

A photo of a tree cut in two due to a neighbours’ dispute over noisy singing birds has become a tourist attraction after a snap was sent to Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 show.

Bharat Mistry, 56, and his family were “gutted” when their next door neighbours called in tree surgeons to cut awway half the branches of the 16ft tall fir tree that had stood for 25 years.

The drastic action came after a year-long dispute between Bharat and neighbours Graham and Irene Lee, both in their 70s, in the leafy Sheffield suburb of Waterthorpe.

Bharat said that the neighbours had got on well until the Covid lockdown when the argument over the tree started.

He claimed the Lees complained birds in the tree were making too much noise and making a mess of the drive of their bungalow in Brier Close, a quiet cul-de-sac where houses sell for between £160,000 and £220,000.

Bharat Mistry said he and his family were horrified when the tree surgeons came

A photo of the halved tree anonymously sent into Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 show and has since turned into a meme on social media.

Bharat said: “We’ve had a lot of people walking past to look at it, people you can just tell have come out of their way to walk their dog on a different route to have a look.

“People have stopped to take pictures, there has been a lot posted on social media. You think we’d probably do the same if it was another house, but it does feel a bit like an invasion of privacy.”

Mr Mistry, a project manager, said: “It has been there for 25 years and we’d trimmed it into a ball shape with agreement with the neighbour and he has been fine about it.

“But recently there have been birds in the tree which you would expect at this time of the year. He started off by putting black bin liners in the tree to stop the birds sitting there.

“Last weekend he said he was going to get a tree surgeon to cut it down and we asked him not to but they came on Friday and did it.”

Bharat said that the tree has now become a tourist attraction with people coming to see it
Bharat said that the tree has now become a tourist attraction with people coming to see it

Bharat said he and his family were horrified as a team of tree surgeons hacked away at their beloved fir tree, which had been part of their lawn for a quarter of a century.

He added: “We were absolutely distraught. We pleaded and pleaded with them not to do it, but their mind was made up. That tree was coming down.

“I believe he has the right to cut down anything that is overhanging onto his property. But you have to ask, why after 25 years would you do that?

“It must have been no more than 3ft onto his land. It is above head height, the bottom of the branches start at about 8ft high and we have cut off the branches lower down to be amiable with them.

“He can get his car on and off the drive with no issues. We had asked if we could get it trimmed back and put a net in it so it would stop birds getting in, but there was no compromise with them.”

Mr Mistry, who lives in the three-bedroom detached property with his wife and two daughters, said the neighbours had got on “perfectly fine” until lockdown.

Bharat said that his family had a good relationship with the neighbours until lockdown started
Bharat said that his family had a good relationship with the neighbours until lockdown started

He claimed Mr Lee first started to complain about the trees last March and things came to a head last week.

“I haven’t spoken to him since they cut it down,” he said.

“We have never had any issues with them before this, we got on fine. Our children would play with their grandchildren when they were younger, we’ve always got on.

“He started complaining about the birds making noise, but my daughter sleeps in the front bedroom and she can’t hear anything.

“He tried to say they have made a mess of his drive but he parks his car there and I haven’t seen any evidence of that on his car.

“The weekend before last they said they were getting a tree surgeon to chop it down and they came out on Friday to do it.

“He used to bring the bins in for us, it’s such a shame it has come to this. It is really sad to look at, because the tree has been there for so long and it’s a really pretty tree.”

The Lees declined to speak when approached for comment.

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