Council ‘slipping up’ on pigeon problem

Feral birds are making life a misery for residents of Bideford street

PESTERED by pooping pigeons, residents of East-the-Water, Bideford, fear the county council has slipped up on a promise of action made seven months ago.

Feral pigeons roosting under the old railway bridge at the bottom of Torrington Lane cause a slippery mess on the pavement and roadway, are noisy and could present a health hazard, said 81-year-old Christine Patt, who lives in the Torridge Close sheltered flats adjacent to the bridge.

She and fellow pensioner Carol Brock first complained last November and raised a petition of more than 100 names from residents of the area.

They enlisted the help of Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox, who took up the matter with the district and county councils.

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The women were pleased when they received a response in January that a Devon County Council bridge inspector had taken a look and the council had a plan of action.

A letter from the county said it was intended to install ‘pigeon spikes’ to deter them from perching on the beams and ledges over the footways, once their fledglings had flown the nest. In the meantime there would be weekly cleaning of the footpaths to remove the mess.

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The cleaning was taking place and that situation was improved, said Mrs Patt. But nothing had been done to deter the pigeons.

“The council has been dragging its feet for so long now that people are afraid the work is not going to be done,” she said.

“Mr Cox wrote to them again at the beginning of this month and we are awaiting a reply.

“The slippery footpaths are not so bad now that they are regularly washed down. But the smell from the pigeons in hot weather is so atrocious that I am unable to open my windows. We also get birds and their eggs squashed in the roadway and covered with flies and people cannot walk under the bridge without having droppings fall on them. There is also concern that they could carry disease.”

Her husband Henry, also 81, said the birds were also noisy. “As soon as daylight comes in, they start. It is not a nice cooing like you expect from pigeons, but a sort of aggressive grunting.”

There were even times when she had to put ear plugs in, said Mrs Patt.

“We are not against pigeons as such, but people are just fed up with them being here. I post a notice in the common room of the flats to keep people informed on what is going on.”

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “The plan has always been to wait until the current fledglings have flown the nest which is expected to be end of August/September. At this point we will install spikes which will deter the pigeons from returning.

“A site visit was held on Thursday and we were pleased to see the number of nesting birds had significantly reduced. There would now appear to be three nesting birds, although other birds are obviously using the bridge for roosting.

“The proposal is to apply for a two day road closure in September to install spikes over all available ledges, and a license from Natural England is also being obtained so that any remaining nests can be removed.

“The footpaths will continue to be cleaned once a week by Devon County Council’s term contractor until the spikes are in place.”

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