£8000 a year to give parliament's pigeons the bird

CLEANING up after pigeons at the Scottish Parliament and taking steps to keep them out of the building is costing taxpayers thousands of pounds a year.

A persistent bird problem has meant Holyrood forking out for major clean-up operations, spikes to stop birds landing on ledges and special netting to keep them out of recesses.

The total cost of measures to protect the building from pigeons has hit more than 8000 a year, and that's on top of a 35,000 four-year contract for pest control, which includes dealing with pigeon problems.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The costs have prompted renewed calls for a bird of prey to be brought in to keep the pigeons away.

The bill for anti-pigeon measures at the parliament has totalled almost 24,000 over the past three years – 8000 in 2005-06, 5450 in 2006-07 and 10,986 in 2007-08.

Documents released under freedom of information legislation, show incidents reported in the past year included dead pigeons at various places around the campus and a bird caught in netting near the debating chamber.

There were also complaints about birds nesting outside windows and in vents above the underground car park and a gull roosting on the roof of the MSPs' restaurant.

Further gripes included "pigeon mess" at the public entrance, the Canongate entrance and under the canopy near the ponds, with reports of pigeons getting inside the building.

One message sent to the incident log read: "I have two in my room. Fortunately the bomb blast interior doors keep them out, but they are sitting on the floor at present with twigs! Maybe they want to set up home."

And another said: "Pigeon has got into building and is flying around in the corridor, third floor, MSP block."

Last April, the parliament installed anti-pigeon spikes on ledges at the front of the building at a cost of 5000, including the hire of a cherry picker, the removal of bird droppings and cleaning.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And a memo from the parliament's facilities management department spelled out the problems of keeping the building free of "unsightly guano", stating that this "requires abseilers to clean".

However, as soon as cleaning is complete the area becomes infested again.

Parliament officials have insisted the use of falcons was never considered appropriate, but Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald said:

"Perhaps we should think again about the possibility of letting not a cat among the pigeons, but a trained falcon."

She added: "That seems to be the only thing that works, if we judge by other places that have had this problem."