PEOPLE could be fined for feeding town centre pigeons except for in the early morning,
Kirklees Council’s Cabinet decided on the plan yesterday in a bid to cut the number of pigeons in the middle of Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Clr David Hall, member for the environment, said: “The advice is that limiting the supply of food is the most effective way of reducing numbers.”
Feeding will be permitted between 7am and 8am on New Street and Lower Brook Street in Huddersfield and outside the Yorkshire Bank on Market Place in Dewsbury.
Clr Hall added: “To take account of some local religious sensitivities we’re going to allow pigeon feeding at certain times of the day.
“Anyone caught feeding pigeons outside those times in those areas – or anywhere else at any time – risk getting a £75 fixed-penalty fine in the same way as they can get for dropping litter.
“The issue of controlling the population of pigeons seems to be one that sets off emotions in various directions.
“However, we do get a lot of complaints from the public, traders and town centre organisations about the nuisance caused by pigeons.
“At the end of the day they are a health hazard. They spread disease and are a form of vermin in the same way as rats and mice. Pigeons have been described by some people as ‘rats with wings’.
“All major towns and cities have a pigeon problem and over the years many schemes and methods have been tried to cut down the breeding and population of pigeons, some of them humane, others less so.
“Latest research suggests that pigeons will control their own population levels depending on the amount of food available.
“In our two main town centres we do seem to have a number of compulsive pigeon-feeders.
“These people simply do not get or accept the message that pigeons are a health hazard and should not be fed.
“Ideally we would like people to stop feeding pigeons in our town centres altogether.
“But that seems an uphill battle at the moment.
“So the plan is to adopt a scheme similar to one used in Trafalgar Square in London.
“There will be a specific early morning one-hour slot for people to feed pigeons in designated areas, after which those areas will be cleaned.
“If feeding is successfully restricted it will mean that for the rest of the day pigeons should disappear if there is no food for them and people refrain from feeding them.
“Clearly, we need the support of the public for this to be a success.
“We do not want to be issuing fixed-penalty fine notices, but that is a resort we will ultimately use if people continue to feed pigeons and threaten the health of others and the general environment of our town centres.”
But the Cabinet’s member for regeneration, Clr Ken Sims, said: “Huddersfield is not the same as London.
“I would just say to farmers in Almondbury ‘watch out’ because these things fly and it’s only a short flight to a corn farm.”
Councillors also agreed to a publicity campaign to explain the new policy to people in Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Cabinet member for finance Clr Andrew Palfreeman says this was important.
He said: “The number of pigeons is a serious problem and this is a humane solution.
“People need to be aware of these regulations.
“I also hope that enforcement is done sympathetically because I don’t want to see headlines about the pigeon police.”
The new plan is the latest in a long line aimed at tackling the pigeon problem.
In July, 1997, Kirklees officials suggested a cull by shooting the birds or catching them in traps.
But the council backed down after an Examiner poll found 64% of people were against the idea.
Two years later the council spent £6,000 on netting at the railway bridges on John William Street and Fitzwilliam Street in a bid to stop pigeons roosting there.
In 2001 Kirklees decided to build special nests for the birds and then remove the eggs before they hatched.
Later that year councillors decided to fix 5in steel spikes to the balcony of Huddersfield Town Hall to stop pigeons nesting there.