CONCERN has been expressed over plans to tackle the problem of pigeons swooping around Darlington’s covered market.

The historic market’s new managers say birds roosting under its canopy and fouling around the area represents a potential public health hazard.

Jonathan Owen from Market Asset Management said harbouring pigeons overhead in the market posed a risk to the public, traders and staff and confirmed that the company was attempting to resolve the issue as part of on-going improvement works to the market.

Mr Owen said discussions were on-going with specialist pest control contractors but would not be drawn on rumours that shooting is one of the methods being considered as a resolution to the problem, instead saying various solutions were being discussed.

Members of the public, the League Against Cruel Sports and the Darlington and Teesside Animal Activists are among those calling for the birds to be treated humanely, not culled.

David Jones, from the Pigeon Control Resource Centre, said that the killing of pigeons would only be considered legal if the property owner – Darlington Borough Council – could demonstrate both that the pigeon-related problems were likely to result in a risk to public health or safety and that “all non-lethal methods of control have been tried and found to have failed.”

Mr Jones said: “As far as the law is concerned, it is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that any pigeon control works carried out are legal.

“Culling cannot be used simply because pigeons are causing damage to a property through fouling. If this were to be done and all other deterrent methods had not been tried first, it would be the property owner who would be legally liable.”

Darlington man Kevin Bland called on MAM to halt their plans, saying: “MAM cannot undertake any action other than to request the involvement of the building owner.

“As the pigeons have been there many years and have not caused health and safety issues for DBC to act up on in such time, that cannot be demonstrated to now be a problem and further, the non-lethal methods of control have been inadequate in their suitability and installation and also poorly maintained, to the extent that they cannot be considered as “tried and failed” as is the requirements of the legislation.”

A spokesman for DBC said MAM had signed a 100-year lease to operate the market and as such, have responsibility for maintaining it.


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