Protesters continue bid to remove town hall netting

Protest against the netting at Louth Town Hall which has been trapping birds last autumn.
Protest against the netting at Louth Town Hall which has been trapping birds last autumn.

Animal rights campaigners in Louth are continuing their bid to have the netting outside the town hall removed - but will need to raise hundreds of pounds for a pest controller.

Meg Johnson, 21, who owns the Potty About Pets shop in Mercer Row, has been leading the long campaign to remove the protective netting on the town hall for the last 18 months.

A pigeon trapped in the netting at Louth Town Hall early last year.

A pigeon trapped in the netting at Louth Town Hall early last year.

As reported previously, several birds - including racing pigeons - have become caught in the protective netting around the upper floors of the town hall and, in some cases, have been trapped there for several days before being rescued. Often, it has been too late to avoid lasting injury, or even death.

Meg previously told the Leader that an RSPCA inspector said the current netting is ‘not fit for purpose’ in March 2019.

A 50-strong protest took place in the town centre back in November, and Ms Johnson has said she will fund the work herself so that it does not cost Louth Town Hall a single penny.

However, this week, Ms Johnson revealed that a pest controller - who had previously agreed to carry out the work - has had to withdraw as they do not have the correct insurance to carry out work at such height.

Ms Johnson said she has been saving her own money to fund the removal of the netting, but she has now launched a fundraising campaign to help ease the financial burden.

Ms Johnson said: “It is a very long process involving traffic management companies for the road closure, diversions and signage, waste disposal companies for the soiled netting, and a qualified pest controller to remove the hundreds of metres of netting.

“I have been saving my own money for over two months to pay for the traffic management company and the waste disposal.

“However, the cost for a pest controller to do such complex work is going to be hundreds of pounds!”

Ms Johnson added that she will not stand by while ‘countless birds’ become trapped and suffer injuries or death.

The true impact of the netting and the number of trapped birds has been disputed between Ms Johnson and the chief executive of Louth Town Hall, Andy Howlett.

Mr Howlett has insisted he is happy to accommodate the removal of the netting, and said he regularly cuts the netting back to allow birds to freely come and go - but added that the town hall does not have the funds to support the efforts financially.

In October, Mr Howlett said: “Since March, we have been cutting away the netting to ensure free access for the birds when we can access the areas, and birds can now come and go freely from areas where they congregate. We also check the netting at least three times a day as recommended to us by the RSPCA.

“We are a community company, we don’t get any grants to support what we do, and we have to generate all the money required to keep the building open and provide the services that we do. We do not have an unlimited pot of money.

“I have provided funding to ensure that the building can remain working for the community, but I cannot fund the netting.”

• Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/removalofbirdnetting to make a donation.