Banks stands up for 'gentle London pigeon'

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The Independent Online

The pigeons of Trafalgar Square yesterday found a staunch defender against the attacks of London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who is trying to rid the area of the birds.

The pigeons of Trafalgar Square yesterday found a staunch defender against the attacks of London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who is trying to rid the area of the birds.

West Ham MP Tony Banks - once a close colleague of Mr Livingstone on the Greater London Council - tabled an early-day motion in the House of Commons calling for compassion for the "gentle London pigeon".

The birds were, he said, "intelligent and sociable creatures" whose presence in the square was enjoyed by citizens and visitors alike.

Earlier this month, Mr Livingstone refused to renew the licence of the square's only pigeon feed seller, arguing that the birds were a nuisance and spread disease.

But last week he reversed his decision, granting feed seller Bernard Rayner a temporary licence, after an outcry from pigeon lovers who claimed the birds would starve.

Mr Livingstone said that if the supply of food was cut off from the pigeons, they would seek pastures new and cause less damage and waste.

The mess they leave, close to one ton of droppings, costs £100,000 to clean up.

Mr Banks suggested that Mr Livingstone "consult the relevant animal welfare organisations on how best to deal with the pigeons".

He also argued that as the pigeons were identified so closely with the square, and thus contributed to the image of one of London's most popular tourist attractions, they should be cherished.

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