WINCHESTER civic chiefs have spent thousands of pounds trying and failing to deter pigeons from a historic monument.

Local residents are getting angry that the city council has spent the money at Hyde Abbey Gate in Hyde without success.

A council statement said: "We can confirm we have spent £25,000 on the Gateway, which includes: pigeon protection works; a detailed structural condition survey and the services of a landscape architect to develop proposals for public realm at Hyde Abbey Gateway."

Local resident Julian Perkins, of Hyde Gate, said: "It is a total scandal. There used to be netting which sorted the problem for years, it was totally bird-proof. I have been told the council has spent £25,000 trying to get rid of the birds. Apparently the netting was not considered aesthetically pleasing.

"It's ridiculous. I got a verbal quote for new netting of £1,500, the size of two football nets. It is a huge waste of money and the gate is still not bird proof. I'm sick to death of the mess".

When the Chronicle spoke to Mr Perkins at the gate, birds were able to evade the new wire mesh and side under the roof.

Hampshire Chronicle: A pigeon inside Hyde Gate

Local city councillor John Tippett-Cooper said: "I’m told that attempts to remove pigeons from a space in this context is a bit of trial and error process. The solution installed by the pest contractors to remove the pigeons from Hyde Gate is intended to be a long term solution and is partly working but not fully yet, which is really frustrating.

"The contractors have been recalled to the site on several occasions to address the problem. It’s getting better over the last couple of weeks but it’s still not perfect.

"In February, the Winchester City Council allocated £450,000 to invest in key heritage sites like Hyde Gate and the Buttercross. Pigeon proofing is just the start of fuller, more comprehensive restoration of Hyde Gate and I had a really positive meeting with local heritage groups about this recently.”

Hampshire Chronicle: The pigeon roost at Hyde Gate

Edward Fennell, founder of Hyde 900 who wants the gate to be converted into a heritage venue, said: "Like other Hyde residents I was disappointed that WCC's successive attempts to purge Hyde Gate of scores of pigeons had failed despite significant expenditure. It reflected, frankly, a woefully poor analysis of what was going wrong. However, in fairness to WCC the contractors have been brought back and, in the past week, now appear to have come up with a solution - installing wire fencing positioned so as to make it almost impossible for the pigeons to perch on the tops of the walls. This should have been obvious from the start but better late than never. But we need to wait and see whether this solution is sustainable in the long term.

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"Getting rid of the pigeons, however, barely scratches the surface of the squalor in Hyde Gate. The wasting of the fabric of the building , the appalling state of the floor areas and the general state of dereliction is an embarrassment - especially when visitors turn up, intrigued by the Hyde Abbey story but only to be disappointed by what they discover. Meanwhile no repairs seem to have been undertaken on the flint wall adjacent to the gateway which fell down last summer.

"There is enormous historical and architectural potential in this Grade One Listed building. Local councillors are now making vague promises about their intentions for development but specific plans have yet to be revealed. The Friends of Hyde Gate along with Hyde900, the Friends of Hyde Garden and the Parish of St. Bartholomew are all keen to collaborate with WCC to turn the precincts of Hyde Abbey into a marvellous heritage and educational venue."

In a statement the council said: “Winchester City Council has a budget in place for better care of our historic assets, including Hyde Abbey Gate. Hyde Gate pigeon proofing was completed as part of phase one and phase two involving restoration/structural works on the gate was going ahead. A specialist contractor has been appointed to carry out heritage stonework to Hyde Gate and the Buttercross. Phase three will be looking to enhance the Hyde Gate site.”

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