There’s a war on the streets of Spalding between the hundreds of pigeons who flock to it, and the ‘pigeolantes’ who are determined the clean the town up.
They believe splatters of dried bird poo is putting shoppers and new businesses off from coming to Spalding.
The sunny town centre can look deceptively pigeon-free at times.
But when a man starts scattering handfuls of birdseed from a large bag, 40 or 50 pigeons instantly divebomb the area from nearby roosts.
The Hall Place seating area outside Boots is transformed into a writhing mass of birds pecking at the food.
This is despite a nearby sign clearly warning people not to feed them, as leftover foods can attract rats.
South Holland District Councillors Angela Newton and Christine Lawton are two of the leading pigeolantes, and have their own feathered ally in the form of a hawk which is flown around the town centre by a pest control company.
However, efforts are being undermined by people who scatter “bread bags full of bird seed” around, instantly drawing the pests back.
“We simply want Spalding to be clean, safe and pleasant. That can’t happen if there are pigeons and bird poo everywhere,” Councillor Lawton said.
“We aren’t asking to get rid of them completely, but get it down to a reasonable number. Less vigilantes, more Pigeolantes. The message has to get across that the problem isn’t going to go away if people keep feeding them.”
She is hopeful that human methods will work, but says: “If it comes to a cull, so be it. We don’t hesitate to get rid of rats – why should it be different for pigeons?”
A street-cleaner who has the unfortunate job of cleaning up after them confirms isn’t uncommon for people to encourage them.
“As soon as the hawk arrived this morning, the pigeons scurry off – it does a great job. People who say it doesn’t work are wrong. But then someone arrives with a big bread bag full of bird seed and they come flocking back,” he said.
Councillor Newton said: “They’re driving shoppers away from Spalding. We tell people it’s vibrant and picking up, but how can we invite people to move in if the empty shops are covered in mess?”
The pigeons have annoying habit of getting where they’re not supposed to be.
“They seem to have found their way into the building which used to be Beales – now the front is covered with mess. Who is going to take it over in that state?” Councillor Newton said.
“The Hole in the Wall alley can get in a state as well, and bird mess is like fly tipping – you have to be cleaning it up constantly or it will attract more.
“Three or four years ago, the number at the railway station was immense. They have spent thousands putting bird netting and other measures in, and it has got better.”
Unfortunately, a walk around the station still reveals birds nesting above in the rafters above passengers, with unattractive bird poo streaking the walls and floor.
East Midlands Railway, who run Spalding Railway Station, have been contacted for comment.
With significant amounts of cash being invested in the town centre’s public areas, the pigeon-haters are hopeful that the pests will eventually be encouraged to move on.
All people need to do is ignore Mary Poppin’s advice and stop feeding the birds.