A FEEDING ban at St Martin’s Churchyard has already been successful in reducing the numbers of pigeons and squirrels living there.

As the Advertiser revealed in December, the vast population of animals and “less-pleasant vermin” living around the church is causing a significant risk to the much-loved building, with architects warning there is a high potential for stonework to be damaged by large amounts of droppings. Signs were erected around the site that month calling for those walking through the yard to “Keep our wildlife wild and our children safe” and refrain from feeding animals there.

Churchwarden Peter Bunn said that while there is still a long way to go, the signs have so far proved effective.

“The number of pigeons you see sitting on the south roof waiting for food has definitely been reduced,” he said.

“It has got better. I would say that most people are respecting the signs. It’s not everyone and we have had some people we have had slight difficulties with.

“But I think most people understand our problem and we are on our way to solving it.”

As well as the potential damage to stonework, a further concern for church workers is that of squirrels finding their way inside and causing damage to the historic organ or, more seriously, chewing through electric wiring and starting a fire.

Householders in the area have also noticed an improvement.

Derek Benoliel of nearby St Martin’s Court said: “The situation is greatly improved.

“It’s not resolved but there definitely isn’t as many pigeons as there was. In the morning we used to see around 100 to 150 pigeons.

“The people that feed them do it with the best intentions in the world but they don’t know the danger.

“The number isn’t as low as it needs to be. They just make such a mess.”

He added: “We are still inundated with squirrels.

“It needs to be stopped completely. You definitely still see people doing it.

“I have nothing against pigeons as a bird but it’s the damage they cause.”

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