Why the feathers are flapping (again) over £8,000 bill

Councillors have rejected spending £8,000 on a ‘humane’ scheme to tackle the town’s problem pigeons - and have called in an expert to investigate if there’s even an issue.

For decades, councillors have received complaints about pigeons amid claims their droppings are a blight on the town - and a health hazard.

Previous solutions have included bringing in a hawk, poisoning, shooting or even popping pigeons on the pill. None have been progressed.

At last Tuesday’s ‘virtual’ meeting, Coun Richard Barker said the problem was worse than ever.

He explained he had spoken to a pest controller who had recommended trapping pigeons in cages on roof tops - and then releasing them 20 miles away.

Councillors heard the scheme would cost £8,000.

Coun Barker said he had moved back into the town centre and many people had told him the council needed to do something to reduce pigeon numbers.

However, Coun Matthew Wilkinson said as pigeons could fly up to 500 miles a day, there was every chance they would return to Horncastle - meaning the cage idea was a waste of time and money.

He also questioned why the council had been sent a quote - without any discussion.

He described the £8,000 as ‘excessive’ and revealed it amounted to five per cent of the council’s annual budget.

Coun Wilkinson added: “Can we justify that? I don’t think so.”

He explained he had been talking to a pigeon expert in regard to an issue at work.

He said the expert had offered to investigate whether there was a problem in Horncastle - without charging a fee.

Coun Wilkinson said: “Some days, I walk through town and there are hundreds of them (pigeons). Other days, there are hardly any.

“We need to decide whether we have a problem that is worse than any other market town.”

Councillor Alan Lockwood said some buildings had a ‘proven problem’ with pigeons and the council should ask the owners to ‘clean up’ or, if they refused, be sent a letter threatening legal action.

However, clerk Amanda Bushell said the council did not have any powers to enforce such an action.

Councillors Angela Birchall and Dominic Hinkins said any issues would not be solved until the food sources for pigeons were removed.

Coun Birchall said: “I know one family who feed pigeons every morning and you should see how many there are...hundreds.

“We need to remind people not to feed pigeons.”

Mayor Coun Fiona Martin said she had been a councillor for more than 40 years and pigeons regularly featured on the agenda.

She said: “I remember one memorable headline in the Horncastle News about putting pigeons on the pill! It took us a long time to live that down!”

Councillors voted to invite Coun Wilkinson’s expert to carry out an investigation and submit a full report to be discussed at next month’s meeting.

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