Pigeons are driving away Norwich market customers, says tea stall owner

Norwich Market, getting overrun with pigeons after food scraps. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Market, getting overrun with pigeons after food scraps. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

An influx of pigeons is being blamed for driving customers away from stalls on Norwich market.

Food stall owners have put signs up trying to stop customers feeding the pigeons at Norwich Market.

Food stall owners have put signs up trying to stop customers feeding the pigeons at Norwich Market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Richard Lovett, who has owned Reggie's tea stall in Row E for 13 years, and is on the Norwich Market Traders' Association committee said not enough was being done to tackle the pest problem.

'We raise this issue every time in meetings with the council - with possible solutions - to no avail,' said Mr Lovett, 32.

'The last we heard the council said they were going to speak to two different pest controllers.

'But killing them is not an option.'

Richard Lovett of Reggies tea stall at Norwich Market, which is getting overrun with pigeons after f

Richard Lovett of Reggies tea stall at Norwich Market, which is getting overrun with pigeons after food scraps. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

He said the canopies above the market, which were designed to open and close based on the weather, meant the pigeons could get in easier.

He added the canopies had been cleaned recently but that the pigeons had since made a mess on them again.

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And that even though when the market was overhauled the stalls in general were improved, the old stalls had been better at keeping the birds out.

'We're losing customers every day, the council say they are going to look into it but nothing is being done. At the same time that we're trying to promote the market and get people to come on here, and this is not helping.

Norwich Market, getting overrun with pigeons after food scraps. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Market, getting overrun with pigeons after food scraps. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

'The other thing is there's an idea that over the Christmas period tables could be put up the top, but people will leave their rubbish and attract more.'

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said the issue was discussed at a meeting last Thursday.

They said: ''One of the items discussed at Thursday's Norwich Market Traders' Association meeting was the issue of pigeons in the market. At that meeting the city council made it clear it is committed to finding a solution to resolve the problem. Work on this is already underway.'

Pigeon problems elsewhere

Norwich market isn't the only place there have been complaints about the birds, which are often referred to as rats with wings. In Trafalgar Square, in London, a man called Bernie Rayner had run a stall selling packets of grain which tourists bought to feed the equally pigeons. They fed so well that they bred several times a year. Repairing the damage to Nelson's Column caused by pigeon droppings cost £140,000.

So when Ken Livingstone became Mayor of London in 2000, he vowed to rid Trafalgar Square of the 4,000 feral pigeons which congregated there. The Greater London Assembly passed a bylaw making it illegal to feed them, and introduced hawks to frighten them away..

The campaign provoked outrage from bird lovers, and from Mr Rayner, who tried to obtain a High Court order to protect his business.

A pressure group, Save the Trafalgar Square Pigeons, sprang up. They discovered that there was a corner of the Square where GLA bylaws did not apply, because it was under the jurisdiction of Westminster City Council, and would arrive early in the morning with a vanload of pigeon feed. But in the end, Mr Livingstone got his way.

In Italy those caught feeding the birds at popular tourist sites such as St Mark's Square in Venice, would be fined.

Non-lethal control methods

• Food reduction

Remove sources of food and water (outdoor pet food bowls, bird baths, bird feeders). Ensure that refuse, especially from a food premises is properly stored and food spillage is kept to a minimum.

• Destruction of nesting sites

Pigeon nests are very simple and often consist of a few stiff twigs. Look for nests along building ledges, bridge supports, air-conditioning units, window sills etc.

Pigeons are very persistent and destruction of the nest at regular intervals is needed with a combination of other control methods.

• Proofing / deterrents

It is important to prevent pigeons from gaining access to roosting and possible nesting sites by sealing doorways, windows, open eaves etc. This may require extensive renovations or may be as simple as closing a window or sealing a crack or crevice using materials such as mesh or wooden panels.

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