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Canterbury City Council to hire hawk for £5k to scare away Herne Bay Bandstand pigeons


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Council bosses hope the stationing of a hawk at Herne Bay’s Bandstand will finally put an end to a long-running pigeon problem.

The local authority has earmarked £5,000 in its budget to fund regular visits from the bird of prey.

Canterbury City Council launched a trial in the summer to see if a hawk would be able to scare away the pigeons. Picture: Canterbury City Council
Canterbury City Council launched a trial in the summer to see if a hawk would be able to scare away the pigeons. Picture: Canterbury City Council

It is believed the presence of the bird will scare away the pigeons, who have blighted the seaside landmark with their nests and droppings in recent years.

Town centre councillor Andrew Cook claims they have been a problem at the Central Parade venue for the last decade, but says the issue worsened while it was closed during lockdown.

“They’re a nuisance,” he explained.

“The issue is they’re nesting there and leaving droppings everywhere.

“Another food outlet, like a boozer or an ice cream parlour, will move into the Bandstand, and in which case we’ve got a problem with hygiene.

Herne Bay councillor Andrew Cook
Herne Bay councillor Andrew Cook

“It’s been an issue for ages. I’ve been reporting pigeon’s mess down there for the last 10 years.”

The method of warding off the troublesome creatures was trialled in August using a hawk called Bella by the city council, which found the “mere presence of the hawk had the effect of keeping the pigeons away”.

Bandstand curry house the Maharaja closed down towards the end of 2019, after a pigeon nest and droppings were discovered inside its food store by inspectors.

The premises continue to sit empty, as the council searches for a new operator for the site.

Meanwhile, Hassan Hassan, who owns the venue’s branch of Makcari’s, says he has been forced to send his employees out to clean up the mess left by the birds once every two days.

The Maharaja in Central Parade, Herne Bay, closed down after a pigeon nest and droppings were discovered inside its food store
The Maharaja in Central Parade, Herne Bay, closed down after a pigeon nest and droppings were discovered inside its food store

“It’s a major problem, and recently the pigeon population at the Bandstand has gone up 10-fold,” the businessman said.

“We have to stay on top of it. We’ve been cleaning it every two days or so because, as a customer, you wouldn’t want to sit on a table that has pigeon poo on it.

“It’s costing us extra effort, extra time, extra money, all at a time when hospitality has been hit the hardest by the pandemic.”

Council spokesman Rob Davies says crews are also regularly sent to the area to jet-wash bird droppings that accumulate at the site.

“The problem has been exacerbated over the last year or so when the site was shut due to Covid,” he explained.

"We’ve been cleaning it every two days or so because, as a customer, you wouldn’t want to sit on a table that has pigeon poo on it..."

“We have been looking at options for dealing with this, and the use of a hawk at the Bandstand is something we are considering progressing.

“Bella’s mere presence in August had the effect of keeping the pigeons away, so it is a humane and natural method of pest control.”

The proposal to fund the measures appears in the city council’s recently-published draft budget, which has gone out to public consultation.

The policy committee will consider the feedback in February, before making recommendations to Full Council, which has a final vote on February 21.

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