Shop owners in the town centre are tired of pigeons using their premises as a toilet.

They have criticised Swindon Borough Council for not taking further action to stop people feeding and attracting the pests in Wharf Green outside the closed Tented Market.

This is despite there being council signs visible in Wharf Green which ask people not to feed the birds.

Ian Jones, who works at Great Western Cameras, explained: “The pigeons here are terrible, because you get people come down with literally a whole loaf of bread and they’ll break it up and just throw it in the air.

“And you’ll get a thousand pigeons there.”

Another trader suggested that the food also attracts rats to the area.

Steve Singh, owner of Phonexhange said: “It’s not very healthy. Normally it is packed with them and customers don’t want to walk here in case they get hit.

“There is a sign saying ‘no feeding the pigeons’, but nobody ever enforces it.

“All people do all day long is feed the pigeons. They use this like a pigeon market.”

Steve says that it is affecting his business because people are out off by the pigeons’ mess.

According to the British Pest Control Association (BPCA), almost half of feral pigeons carry the infectious disease chlamydia psittaci.

Human infection can lead to fever, pneumonia and even death, while their droppings can lead to breathing problems as well as making businesses appear unclean.

But despite signs against feeding the pigeons, Swindon Borough Council has said it is not legally forbidden in the area.

A council spokesperson said: “There are no laws currently in place stopping people feeding pigeons in the town centre. 

“The signs traders refer to are in place advising people not to feed pigeons and are not linked to an order prohibiting it.

“However, if there is a persistent issue with people feeding pigeons in the town centre, we will assess the best way to tackle it.”

Councils do have the ability to introduce legislation against feeding birds through Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs). 

These can introduce fines for feeding birds in certain areas where it could lead to health and safety concerns, property damage, and nuisance.

For example, in Havant Borough Council you could be fined £80 for feeding pigeons.

The BCPA advice states: “If birds are being fed, more will be attracted to that area, so food sources must be kept to a minimum.

What happened to Wharf Green?

In 2007 Wharf Green underwent a £215 regeneration, winning a commendation in the 2009 Civic Trust Awards, South West.

Street furniture designers, Woodscape, described it at the time:  “Wharf Green has now become an elegant and uncluttered public meeting space, adorned with trees and plants, which is buzzing with activity, café life and has live events regularly taking place.”

However, with the closure of the tented Tented Market since 2017 the it has become a site for graffiti, making the Wharf Green area appear run-down and unloved.

Ian said: “I think it's a mess. It reflects badly in the town centre. And maybe people don't necessarily want to come down this way because of how bad it looks.”

He added: “It is crazy that the market is not being used for anything, like community projects. 

“There are lots of different things you could do with it, I'm sure.”

The Tented Market is currently owned by CJV properties, a subsidiary of Panther Securities Plc.

The company had planning permission for a 10-storey mixed residential and commercial block, which has now expired.