Leighton Buzzard residents urge NatWest to remove 'death trap' bird netting

It's believed at least three birds have died and others have become stuck

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 5:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st April 2021, 6:04 pm

Leighton Buzzard shoppers are urging NatWest to take action as frightened birds are becoming trapped in the netting on its roof.

Over the past couple of weeks, members of the public have spotted species including pigeons and a jackdaw that are stuck in the material and unable to escape.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service have already had to rescue several birds from netting, while it is believed that at least three birds have died.

Trapped birds. Right: the fire brigade at the scene. Photo: Bedfordshire Wildlife.

Speaking on Tuesday, a spokeswoman from the Facebook group Bedfordshire Wildlife, claimed: "Two weeks ago [March 13], the fire brigade had to rescue multiple pigeons that were trapped in the bird netting between WH Smith and NatWest. On Friday [March 26] a friend spotted another bird - possibly a jackdaw - that has been trapped in the netting at the front of NatWest. As we couldn’t tell if the bird was alive or dead at the time, the RSPCA would not come out to remove the bird. The bird (presumed to be dead) is still flapping in the wind as it hasn’t been removed.

"The bank, instead of getting someone to remove the bird, called Rentokill, who told two members of the public on Friday afternoon that they would not remove the bird and that they would not tell them what was happening because they are not the customer. This netting needs removing as we know it had killed at least three birds since mid March.

"The fire brigade didn’t remove the dead birds from the section between WH Smith and NatWest. They can still be seen from the high street as well as the trapped jackdaw."

Members of the public believe that the netting began to fall into disrepair over the winter, causing birds to become stuck in it, and are now urging the bank to get rid of the netting completely.

The jackdaw. Photo: Bedfordshire Wildlife.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue service were called out again to release a trapped rock dove from the rear of the building.

The Bedfordshire Wildlife spokeswoman claimed: "The NatWest roof is pitched so it doesn't need a net to deter birds; it is too sloped for them to nest upon. A bird would only perch on the roof for a short period and cause no harm. It's a bird, what's it going to do?

"There are also two peregrine falcons that have been spotted in Leighton Buzzard. If they try and catch one of the pigeons and become trapped or die in the net, this could cause huge problems as they are a protected species.

"Why won't NatWest pay and fix the netting? Birds are dying.

One of the peregrine falcons. Photo: Bedfordshire Wildlife.

"There are also holes in NatWest's roof and birds are nesting there. That also needs repairing."

A NatWest spokeswoman said: “Along with the rest of the community, our NatWest colleagues are very mindful that we share our beautiful town with local wildlife that we must help to keep safe where we can.

“We arranged for an emergency site assessment as soon as we became aware of the issue at our Leighton Buzzard branch. We have since commissioned Rentokil to undertake a full survey of the roof and to replace the netting. This is a complex task and will begin as soon as the correct specialist equipment and appropriate council permissions have been secured. In the meantime, we are constantly monitoring the situation and we have been reassured by an independent contractor that there is no danger to living wildlife at present.”

A Leighton-Linslade Town Council spokeswoman, said: "Members of the public contacted the town council last Friday [March 26] about a bird caught in netting on the NatWest Bank building. Although the council has no jurisdiction on such issues, we took it upon ourselves to contact the RSPCA on the public’s behalf. We have also contacted NatWest Bank to advise them of the public’s concern. The message may not have reached the local branch yet. NatWest Bank obviously need to mend their netting or install alternative deterrents.

"There is no link between the NatWest building netting and the town council’s recent pigeon management grant.

"As said, the town council has no powers on such issues."

Commenting on the March 13 incident, a Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman, said: "We were called to Leighton Buzzard High Street at 12pm on the 13 March to respond to pigeons caught in netting. The pigeons were released by fire service by creating larger hole in netting using a 9m ladder and a ceiling hook.

"This isn’t a situation that the fire service would get involved in and we would suggest that this is referred to the RSPCA to take further action."

Commenting on the March 30 incident, the spokeswoman added: “The fire service provided support on March 30 to rescue a bird caught in netting using our aerial platform. The building owners have been made aware of our attendance and have been provided with advice from the appropriate services.”

The LBO also contacted the RSPCA for a comment, but has not yet received a response.