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Saturday, 7 October, 2000, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Carla fights Mayor Ken's pigeon plan
Trafalgar Square's pigeons leave behind a huge mess
Animal rights campaigner Carla Lane has called on London Mayor Ken Livingstone to rethink a decision to stop people feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square.

Mr Livingstone wants to clean up the central London tourist spot and make it somewhere people can sit in peace and quiet.

There are also concerns about the spread of disease from the birds.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone: "Keen not to cause cruelty"
But Ms Lane, famous for penning television sitcoms such as Bread and The Liver Birds, fears by suddenly stopping the corn supply pigeons could starve.

She also believes the tradition helps educate children to care for animals.

The Greater London Authority took control of the square from the Department of Culture at the start of last week and immediately evicted Bernard Rayner, the last feed seller.

His family have had a legal pitch selling corn to feed to the birds for more than 50 years.

Three heritage wardens have been employed by the GLA to patrol Trafalgar Square and evict illegal traders.

But Ms Lane said: "The problem with politicians is that they do not understand how much people love feeding the pigeons.

Carla Lane
Carla Lane: "People love feeding the pigeons"
"This practice has been going on for decades and people come from abroad just to do it. There are already enough places in London to sit in quiet."

Ms Lane, of Horsted Keynes, West Sussex, said she has been inundated with phone calls and faxes from people saying they will not stop feeding the pigeons.

The birds are often the first contact children have with animals, she added.

"If a pigeon lands on a child's shoulder it will paint a good picture in their mind and show them that all animals are worth caring for."

The number of pigeons in British towns and cities is estimated to have doubled in the last five years.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 visit Trafalgar Square to feed.

But it costs 100,000 a year to clean a ton of pigeon droppings from Nelson's Column and the surrounding area in the square.

Ms Lane said this cost is worthwhile to allow future generations to enjoy feeding the birds. She said: "As humans we treat as vermin anything we cannot control."

'Extensive advice'

But a spokeswoman for the GLA said: "The Mayor has taken extensive advice on this issue and is keen not to cause cruelty to the pigeons."

She said it was understood the pigeons would naturally turn to other food sources and would not starve now the corn had been withdrawn.

"Mr Livingstone wants Londoners and tourists to be able to enjoy this special part of London," the spokeswoman went on.

"The idea is to make it pleasant for future generations."

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11 Jul 00 | UK
Pigeon takes a cruise
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