Pigeon lovers sue Mayor over feeding ban

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It has been called the modern-day "Battle of Trafalgar" and has pitted pigeon lovers in the capital's most famous square against Ken Livingston. Now the fight to feed the pigeons is being taken to the law courts.

Campaigners issued legal proceedings against the Mayor yesterday in an attempt to force him to allow the feeding of the 1,500 birds. The Save The Trafalgar Square Pigeons action group said they had fed the birds daily at 7.30am, with Mr Livingstone's agreement, since 2002. Under the programme, which was designed to ensure a humane reduction in pigeon numbers, the amount of food has been gradually reduced.

But the group alleges that the programme was abruptly stopped in June. Claiming that the programme constituted a legally binding contract, the campaigners are now seeking a specific performance order to force the Mayor to abide by its terms.

Ann Mann, the group's spokeswoman, said campaigners had been reassured that the feeding programme would be reduced without starving the birds. "It's unacceptable that the birds should starve to death," she said.

But a spokesman for the Greater London Authority (GLA) said that while it had agreed to reduce pigeon feeding, there had been "an attempt to resist this approach by animal rights activists feeding feral pigeons on the north terrace".

He added: "As there is persistent and antisocial feeding by pigeon-rights activists on the north terrace of the square, which is controlled by Westminster City Council ... there is no case for feeding the pigeon colony in the Trafalgar Square area."