FRESH calls are being made to rid a Skipton railway bridge from the scourge of pigeons.
The bridge on Keighley Road – at a prominent entrance to the town – is commonly known as ‘pigeon bridge’ because of the amount of droppings produced by the birds, heard Skipton’s annual town meeting.
But Network Rail – which owns the bridge – says it does not have the money to install anti-pigeon netting, but it is hopeful Craven District Council will continue to clean it up, even though it is not the council’s responsibility.
People walking in and out of Skipton along Keighley Road are regularly spattered by pigeons roosting in the bridge and dead birds frequently fall into the road, heard last week’s meeting.
Cars passing under the bridge are also hit by falling mess, obscuring windscreens and causing a potential safety risk.
Cyclists taking part in the recent Tour de Yorkshire passed under the bridge and television footage was beamed all over the world, giving a poor impression of the town, the meeting was told.
Marie Hickman, the consort of newly elected town mayor, Cllr Alan Hickman, said frequent attempts to clear the bridge permanently of pigeons had taken place over the years, but nothing had been successful.
She said both sides of the bridge were a mess and rubbish thrown over a nearby wall could attract rats.
On one occasion she had been driving under the bridge and her windscreen had been splatted by pigeon mess which had obscured her vision.
Councillors said frequent requests had been made to Network Rail to clean the bridge, but they had fallen on deaf ears.
Peter Madeley, deputy town mayor and a member of Craven District Council, said it was a disgrace that the bridge, at such a prominent entrance into town, had been let to fall into such a state.
He said residents had offered to carry out the work themselves and that the district council had cleaned the area around the bridge on occasions, even though it was no its responsibility.
“I’ve lived here for 38 years and I cannot remember the bridge ever being re-decorated, its rusty and it just looks appalling,” he said.
Cllr Madeley, who said discussions were ongoing once more with rail bosses, said it was hoped anti-pigeon netting would be installed.
“We just can’t carry on getting the number of complaints we’re currently getting, this is a problem that has been going on for years, and its just not that it doesn’t look right, it is a health hazard.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Network Rail owns a huge number of railway bridges and other structures. Due to the vast number of these structures, it is not possible to install pigeon netting to each one. Network Rail is a tax-payer funded organisation and, as such, has a limited amount of funds which must be prioritised on keeping the railway running safely and reliably.
“That being said, we are working with Craven District Council to carry out improvements to the railway bridge on Keighley Road, which includes painting a section of the bridge, as well as work to clean waste from the structure.”
A spokesman for Craven District Council said: “We have been discussing this issue with Network Rail as we regularly receive complaints from residents.
“We have asked Network Rail to put up netting on the railway bridge as we believe this would be the best solution to the problem. However Network Rail has so far declined to do so. We do clean the pavement under the bridge regularly but this has a cost to the tax-payer and we do not have the resources to do so every day. We will continue to discuss this problem with Network Rail as we would like to see it resolved for the benefit of residents and the town as a whole.”