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

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Paddington 1961

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Paddington, Metropolitan Borough of]

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garden squares in the south of the Borough and the recreation ground
in the north, masks the number. The cause of the complaints is
invariably the congregating of the birds with the consequent damage
of property, noise and unsightly mess.
Under Section 121 of the Public Health (London) Act, 1936 the
Council have power to destroy pigeons in order to abate " a nuisance,
annoyance or damage " caused by their congregation. No official
pigeon catcher has been appointed but if appropriate complainants
are referred to two private firms who operate in the Borough.
No responsibility for their work is accepted by the Council, the
charges and other matters being arranged between the complainant
and the firm chosen. Most of the complaints dealt with in this way
arise from a natural congregation, for roosting, on tall buildings.
The feeding of pigeons by bird-lovers however is another cause of
pigeons flocking together and almost always leads to complaints by
neighbours about the resultant noise and filth. Jn these cases the
Public Health Inspector visits the offender and points out the
nuisance caused and that the birds will not starve if left to themselves.
This frequently ends the trouble.
There is no doubt in my mind that in common with dogs,
which foul the streets and frequently cause road accidents when off
the lead, pigeons in large numbers are not acceptable in towns, and
that only good would come from a reduction in their number.
This should be undertaken as a combined operation throughout
London to prevent the birds from merely moving on.
When applications are made to the Council for either discretionary
or standard Improvement Grants the Public Health
Department is asked to comment on the scheme submitted. If a
grant is made, any works carried out have to be to the satisfaction
of this department so far as public health matters are involved, e.g.
drainage, underground rooms. During 1961 the department's
comments were invited upon 61 applications, but not all of these were
proceeded with.
The department is also asked to supply information regarding
the property (the existence of closing orders; permitted numbers,
etc.) before the Council considers applications for loans for house
purchase, and 116 such cases were dealt with during the year.
During the year the Council were able to make a start on the
re-housing of families from this clearance area and on demolishing
the properties. The main difficulty has been the provision of
alternative accommodation. Most of the re-housing has been in the
new flats erected in the Hall Park area. By the end of the year
85 families (261 persons) had been rehoused and 17 premises had
been demolished.

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