The borough council is planning to come down hard on the growing number of people feeding pigeons in the town centre.
The move comes as habitual ‘birdman’ Leslie Harrison (74) receives his third fixed penalty notice for an £80 fine for feeding the birds every day – a habit which has spread among several other people.
The council has pointed out that the pigeons are defecating on the town plaza, on monuments and on the approach to St Mark’s Church.
And it has been reported recently that a shop has had to close temporarily due to the fact that pigeons found their way into unoccupied rooms above the premises and precipitated a serious health hazard.
A spokesperson for the council pointed out that Mr Harrison had, over recent years, received three £80 fixed penalty notices, none of which he has paid.
The council also took him to court where he was bound over for a year, but he still persists in feeding the pigeons.
“More and more people are feeding the birds, with the result that literally dozens have roosted in and around the town centre,” said the spokesperson. “They constitute a nuisance and a serious health problem and we are clamping down on it.”
Mr Harrison will probably face a further court appearance, but he is unapologetic. “It gives me a pastime which I look forward to,” he said. “I will continue to feed the pigeons every day and I have made friends among others who do the same. It’s a pleasant community exercise.
“I haven’t paid any of the fixed penalties and I don’t intend to. They can send me to jail if they want, but I won’t stop feeding the pigeons. It would be a lonely life without them and without the friends I have made in the town.”
He ended by quoting the Bible – Matthew Chapter 6 verse 26: ‘Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them’.
The council has confirmed that it is applying the by-laws – chapter and verse – to the pigeon feeders from now on.