Pigeon feeding - 400,000 annual cost

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Thursday 8 February 2018 12.35pm
faraday wrote:
John C wrote:
So if sunday you're free,
Why don't you come with me,
And we'll poison the pigeons in the park.

Firstly: I decline your nasty offer and I will not join your pigeon poisoning exploits since it is a far more serious offense than feeding the pigeons ... unless you are authorised by Southwark council?
faraday

faraday - I hope you realised that the words were not John C's 'nasty offer' but a quote from the brilliant Tom Lehrer:

We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin'
With each drop of strychnine
We feed to a pigeon.
It just takes a smidgin!
To poison a pigeon in the park.

I'm not about to condone poisoning but do wish the person who scatters large quantities of stale pitta bread on the grass in Tabard Street would desist. Apart from attracting a heaving mass of pigeons, the stuff stays around for ages as unsightly litter.
Thursday 8 February 2018 12.49pm
Gavin Smith wrote:
To be clear, I "liked" John's verse. I don't like pigeons and agree that they are rats with wings. I certainly wouldn't feed them and would like for them to be humanely removed.

As spartacus says, not my verse, but Tom Lehrer's (and in New York). He recommended peanuts coated with arsenic. Which, as faraday (who apparently took it seriously) says, is no doubt illegal. Personally, I rather like pigeons, parakeets, crows, squirrels and urban foxes. I'd like to see more sparrows. But, faraday, surely from your point of view spending some of the 100,000 per year on poisoning pigeons would be a good use of taxpayers' money? (By the way, faraday, who are you getting at with 'even if you don't pay Council Tax'? Who around here isn't paying council tax?)

In response to Jules62's photographs and the subsequent lack of action by Southwark Council and connie's recent post - what is the law about feeding pigeons there? Is there a local by-law, or is it regarded as a 'nuisance' or 'dropping litter'? Is there a notice requesting people not to feed the pigeons?
Thursday 8 February 2018 1.06pm
John C wrote:
Is there a notice requesting people not to feed the pigeons?

There is certainly one in Tabard Street, placed on the railings of the gardens...if my recall is correct, it threatens a fine of 80 for feeding them.
Thursday 8 February 2018 3.54pm
spartacus wrote:
John C wrote:
Is there a notice requesting people not to feed the pigeons?

There is certainly one in Tabard Street, placed on the railings of the gardens...if my recall is correct, it threatens a fine of 80 for feeding them.

This is for people who visit the borough or own freehold properties.

In Southwark, Pigeon feeding is a specific condition in both leaseholder and tenancy contracts which people who live in the borough must sign. Go and check. In each case it is a breach of contract to feed the pigeons, forget the small fine, you could lose your home as a result.

The council have been provided photographs but amusingly my remark about them turning a blind eye is upheld in Jules's first photograph ... check out the security camera in the background ... looks like it had decided the wall is more important than the street.
My suspicion is that the growing pest control budget depends on a growing population of rats and pigeons. The feeding activity is ignored intentionally because it provides a way to release council tax funds .. quite unnecessarily in my opinion. There are far more deserving causes.

I wonder when the last pigeon feeding prosecution occurred?

Any council people reading this? Maybe you can save us doing a freedom of information request ... if I have to go there I will chart pest control budgetary figures over time. Think Freakonomics.

faraday
Thursday 8 February 2018 7.48pm
faraday wrote:
spartacus wrote:
John C wrote:
Is there a notice requesting people not to feed the pigeons?

There is certainly one in Tabard Street, placed on the railings of the gardens...if my recall is correct, it threatens a fine of 80 for feeding them.

This is for people who visit the borough or own freehold properties.

In Southwark, Pigeon feeding is a specific condition in both leaseholder and tenancy contracts which people who live in the borough must sign. Go and check. In each case it is a breach of contract to feed the pigeons, forget the small fine, you could lose your home as a result.

Good heavens, faraday! So council tenants and leaseholders have to sign up to these restrictive covenants? Sorry - I'm neither a visitor to the borough nor an owner of a freehold property - just a private tenant whose lease says nothing about pigeons, so I didn't know. But surely it can only prohibit a tenant feeding pigeons on the premises or on the estate - actually, I've just found it on-line 'You must not feed any pigeons on the estate or in the locality of the property.' Not quite sure how extensive 'the locality of the property' is meant to be - the rule certainly seems to allow you to feed the pigeons in the locality of someone else's property! (Like in front of the LCC for example?) Or is the Council trying to restrict the activities of its tenants in public places?

spartacus: thanks for the information about Tabard Gardens and the ban on feeding pigeons there - and the notice. I'd assume the ban applies to other Southwark parks, but oddly, all I can find on-line is 'BYELAWS FOR PLEASURE GROUNDS, PUBLIC WALKS AND OPEN SPACES', which doesn't seem to mention feeding pigeons (although it confirms it is illegal to poison them: 'No person shall kill, injure, take or disturb any animal...'). But it is dated 2007 - there may be updates.

But the notice on the railings of Tabard Gardens presumably applies within the gardens, not to Tabard Street outside the railings?

So, to repeat my earlier question, is there a Southwark byelaw - one the Council can enforce - to stop people (council tenants or not) feeding pigeons in public places, in areas that are not council estates, parks or council-owned properties? If there is, then the Council could spend part of the 100,000 p.a. on employing wardens to issue spot fines to whoever they catch doing it. Then the pigeons can die slowly of starvation (which is natural) or move to more welcoming boroughs.

Feeding large flocks of pigeons in a public place is a nuisance, but is it illegal?
Thursday 8 February 2018 8.23pm
John C wrote:
Sorry - I'm neither a visitor to the borough nor an owner of a freehold property - just a private tenant whose lease says nothing about pigeons, so I didn't know. But surely it can only prohibit a tenant feeding pigeons on the premises or on the estate -
actually, I've just found it on-line 'You must not feed any pigeons on the estate or in the locality of the property.' Not quite sure how extensive 'the locality of the property' is meant to be - the rule certainly seems to allow you to feed the pigeons in the locality of someone else's property! (Like in front of the LCC for example?) Or is the Council trying to restrict the activities of its tenants in public places?

...

So, to repeat my earlier question, is there a Southwark byelaw - one the Council can enforce - to stop people (council tenants or not) feeding pigeons in public places, in areas that are not council estates, parks or council-owned properties? If there is, then the Council could spend part of the 100,000 p.a. on employing wardens to issue spot fines to whoever they catch doing it. Then the pigeons can die slowly of starvation (which is natural) or move to more welcoming boroughs.

Feeding large flocks of pigeons in a public place is a nuisance, but is it illegal?

You recognise Pigeon feeding as a nuisance, good.

and if it affects your neighbors property (pigeon feces on property or vehicles) then you could be served notice by the council under section 80 of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. If there is a rat infestation as a result of the food being left out for pigeons then you could be served notice under the 1949 prevention of damage by pests act. If you are feeding pigeons in a public place the council can serve you with a fixed penalty notice on the spot fine under the Crime and Policing Act (ASBO related) as it is littering and encouraging vermin.
Friday 9 February 2018 10.01am
faraday wrote:
John C wrote:
Sorry - I'm neither a visitor to the borough nor an owner of a freehold property - just a private tenant whose lease says nothing about pigeons, so I didn't know. But surely it can only prohibit a tenant feeding pigeons on the premises or on the estate -
actually, I've just found it on-line 'You must not feed any pigeons on the estate or in the locality of the property.' Not quite sure how extensive 'the locality of the property' is meant to be - the rule certainly seems to allow you to feed the pigeons in the locality of someone else's property! (Like in front of the LCC for example?) Or is the Council trying to restrict the activities of its tenants in public places?

...

So, to repeat my earlier question, is there a Southwark byelaw - one the Council can enforce - to stop people (council tenants or not) feeding pigeons in public places, in areas that are not council estates, parks or council-owned properties? If there is, then the Council could spend part of the 100,000 p.a. on employing wardens to issue spot fines to whoever they catch doing it. Then the pigeons can die slowly of starvation (which is natural) or move to more welcoming boroughs.

Feeding large flocks of pigeons in a public place is a nuisance, but is it illegal?

You recognise Pigeon feeding as a nuisance, good.

and if it affects your neighbors property (pigeon feces on property or vehicles) then you could be served notice by the council under section 80 of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. If there is a rat infestation as a result of the food being left out for pigeons then you could be served notice under the 1949 prevention of damage by pests act. If you are feeding pigeons in a public place the council can serve you with a fixed penalty notice on the spot fine under the Crime and Policing Act (ASBO related) as it is littering and encouraging vermin.

Thank you, faraday - so, if I read your helpful exposition correctly, feeding pigeons is not illegal per se. It's either (1) 'littering and encouraging vermin' in a public place - like dropping a half-eaten burger outside Macdonalds - or (2) there's now a rat infestation proveably as a result, or (3) the neighbours have complained about pigeon droppings on property or vehicles. Which of these legal options do you think Southwark Council should be pursuing in this case?
Friday 9 February 2018 1.48pm
I'm no fan of pigeons but do recognise they spend most of their time picking up rubbish we've dropped or left behind. So, not clear who the real enemy is here.
Friday 9 February 2018 1.50pm
Easy to answer John

The breach of tenancy/leaseholder contract would see the offender leaving the neighborhood. (They can collect a Darwin award for services to pigeondom as they depart for pastures new)

People who cause nuisance and expense and do not care about their neighbors or the environment will not be missed.

People who can read and sign an agreement as well as keep to their word will be more welcome as neighbors.

What do you think? In your opinion which of these methods do you think would most quickly put a stop to this selfish anti-social behavior?
Friday 9 February 2018 6.10pm
faraday wrote:
Easy to answer John
The breach of tenancy/leaseholder contract would see the offender leaving the neighborhood. (They can collect a Darwin award for services to pigeondom as they depart for pastures new)

People who cause nuisance and expense and do not care about their neighbors or the environment will not be missed.

People who can read and sign an agreement as well as keep to their word will be more welcome as neighbors.

What do you think? In your opinion which of these methods do you think would most quickly put a stop to this selfish anti-social behavior?

faraday, since I've no idea who exactly is being accused of something that we might term 'aggravated pigeon feeding' I obviously can't answer your question.

IF they are a council tenant or leaseholder they MAY be in breach of their lease - but only IF they are feeding pigeons 'on the estate or in the locality of the property'. (Sorry - I don't have such a lease to check the exact wording - I'm just going by the draft lease that Southwark Council put on line.) Now as the photos Jules62 posted show, this isn't on a council estate, it's on the public pavement. And 'in the locality of the property' are weasel words that any smart lawyer would tear to shreds. Do they mean in the back garden, adjacent to the entrance, within a certain (undefined) distance of the property boundary, or what? (Perhaps they meant to write 'in the vicinity of the property' - equally indefinite, but at least it's proper English.) And clearly it leaves it open to a council tenant from one estate to feed pigeons on another estate (or in public) without being in breach of their lease.

That leaves only the other three possible charges that you so usefully set out - (1) littering, (2) having caused a current (not just potential) rat infestation, or (3) subsequent to a complaint by the neighbours of damage to their property or pigeon droppings.

No, it's NOT easy to answer, faraday. But look back at what you originally wrote - you complained of a Council 'scam' - the Council had, you believe, 'STOPPED prosecuting pigeon feeders so they can 'release' hundreds of thousands of our hard earned council tax'. So you want the Council to restart a previous (?) policy of prosecuting pigeon feeders. So presumably you know what exactly that policy was - please enlighten us as to which of the prosecution options they used to enforce.

It seems to be far from straightforward.

I'm sure people have seen http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2573001/Not-Pigeon-Lady-Pimlico-walks-free-court-despite-flouting-ASBO-banning-feeding-birds.html from a few years ago
but it's also worth looking at the readers' comments on that story. If you sort them by 'best rated' you'll find the most popular were the ones that said things such as (I paraphrase) 'waste of police and court's time, prosecuting (persecuting?) a harmless old lady'.

Or see https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lonely-woman-must-pay-2300-7426683

Or http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-394624/Pensioner-fined-50-feeding-pigeons.html

Perhaps Southwark Council don't want the bad press. 'Old lady driven out of her home for feeding pigeons'.

I notice Hillingdon Council has a page of advice about pigeons, which points out 'There is no law available to stop a person from feeding wild birds except the law relating to litter, if large quantities of food are being put down in a public place' and 'If your neighbour is a tenant, such behaviour, especially on communal grounds, may be covered by tenancy rules. You should contact the housing officer or Landlord to inquire.' See https://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/article/12791/Pigeons

Perhaps as a first step Southwark Council could put out similar information about the legal situation in this borough.

Easy to answer, faraday? - No.
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