RSPCA called in flap over birds
A PROPERTY developer and a borough councillor have got into a flap over the welfare of a flock of pigeons living in a derelict building in Tonbridge town centre.
Tonbridge and Malling borough councillor Vivian Branson spotted several apparently distressed birds hurling themselves against an upstairs window at 1 Bank Street when she walked by on Monday morning.
Believing the pigeons to be trapped, she alerted the RSPCA.
The Longmead Way resident told the Courier: "I have asked our officers for that window to be closed up, and it was done in the last few days. But now I don't think these pigeons can have any way of getting out, or they wouldn't be there battering away at the window.
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"As much as pigeons are a pest, they are creatures and it's very distressing to see any creature looking so distressed."
She added: "Residents have said to me they are really fed up with all the mess and everything else. There must be an awful lot of pigeon mess inside."
The Courier visited the building – which has been vacant for several years – on Monday afternoon shortly after workmen cut a hole in a board covering a first-floor window.
As pigeon after pigeon scrambled out of the new hole, others remained inside, flapping against the one remaining pane of glass at the front of the building.
RSPCA spokeswoman Klare Kennett confirmed it was illegal to knowingly trap live animals inside a building without food or water. Anyone found to have caused suffering to animals by doing so could expect to face prosecution, she said.
But Rod Clark, managing director of site owners Clark and Scott, denied the birds had no means of escape.
"The reason we had to board that window up was because it had been vandalised by someone who smashed the glass," he said. "We went to board it up on Friday because shards of glass were causing a danger to pedestrians.
"It wasn't trapping the birds – they have plenty of holes to come in and out of.
"We discussed the situation with the RSPCA on Monday and came to a compromise. They asked us to make a hole in the board at the front because the birds were trying to get out of that window – and we did just that."
Mr Clark said the problem was caused by pigeons forgetting how they got into the building and failing to retrace their steps.
The building's rotten and dangerous interior also meant workmen could not go inside to fix all of the holes and flush out the birds before sealing it, he said.
"It's difficult to manage the situation," he added. "We've responded to every request to board it up and unboard it.
"We get asked by the council to board it and then the RSPCA asks us to unboard it. We try to be as co-operative as possible, but it's like the hokey-cokey down there."