London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Chelsea 1931

Annual report of the Medical Officer of Health for Chelsea, 1931

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The cost to the Council of rat catching varnish during the year was
£5 17s. 0d.
Nuisance caused by Pigeons.—During the year further complaints
were received from residents in the neighbourhood of Chelsea Embankment,
Elm Park Gardens, and Draycott Place regarding nuisance arising
from the large number of pigeons in the area.
On investigation, it is invariably found that very serious nuisance
is caused by these birds. In addition to accumulation of excreta
in rain pipes and gullies, pipes are blocked by the nests of the birds, and
the areas and walls of houses concerned are in an insanitary state
generally. Further, the birds pick out portions of mortar and cement
from the structures, tending to cause dampness within the houses. The
removal, cleansing, and replacement of rain pipes ; the cleansing of
areas and walls ; and other repair work involves the owners of such
property in considerable and recurring expense.
Until recently a Sanitary Authority had no powers to deal with nuisance
caused by pigeons ; in fact, there were restraining enactments which
prevented steps being taken to reduce the nuisance, e.g., under the
Larcency Act, 1861, section 23, there is a penalty of £'2 if pigeons are
shot or trapped and this may be claimed by a common informer.
The London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1927, now enables
a Sanitary Authority to take necessary steps to reduce the number of
pigeons within its area. Section 52 of this Act provides that, for the
purpose of abating or mitigating nuisance, annoyance or damage caused
by the congregation at any place in the Borough of house doves or pigeons
having, or believed by the Borough Council to have no owner, or of
preventing or minimising any such nuisance, annoyance or damage which
might, in the opinion of the Council, be so caused, the Council may seize
and destroy or sell any such house doves or pigeons in excess of such
number as the Council may consider reasonable, and take such steps as
they may deem necessary for such purpose. It is however, necessary
for the Council to obtain consent to the measures adopted by them from
the person or corporation in whom the building or land upon which
the birds congregate is vested.
The Borough Council has from time to time employed various contractors
for the destruction of a number of pigeons, at a cost to the Council
of is. for each pigeon.
Much difficulty has been experienced in carrying out pigeon destruction,
owing to the opposition of a large section of the public. In particular,
it has been found practically impossible to catch pigeons on a public
highway owing to interference from adjoining residents and other persons.
The best results have been obtained at churches and other institutions
where there are enclosed spaces in which the contractor can operate and
to which the public cannot gain admission.
During the year 1931, 155 pigeons were captured and humanely

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