Pigeons should make way for veg, say housing bosses

By John Hill on February 3, 2009 2:43 PM |

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East End Homes has defended its move to replace a historic pigeon loft with allotments.

The century-old Millwall Pigeon Club could fold if the Thermopylae Gate loft is taken down, but the association argues that growing fruit and veg "should come before one man's pigeons".

Pigeon racer Bob Bonner told The Wharf last week about his struggle to maintain his beloved collection of birds, one of which is a two-time winner of the prestigious Gold Cup.

The loft has stood in the same garden since the war, and is important to the future survival of the Millwall Pigeon Club itself. If Bob is forced to take down the structure, the club's membership will fall behind the required minimum of five and it will be forced to close.

Bob has already killed 18 pigeons valued at around £800 each in a bid to reach a compromise, while locals fear that the arrival of non-resident allotment holders will compromise security on the estate.

East End Homes' Island Gardens neighbourhood manager Paul Wilson contacted The Wharf to explain his group's controversial stance.

He said: "Bob Bonner’s passion for his pigeons is well known, but if Millwall Pigeon Club’s existence is threatened it is due to his reluctance to reduce his pigeon numbers and have a smaller loft, not because of the allotment project at Thermopylae Gate.

"Growing your own fruit and vegetables provides good exercise, promotes healthy eating, saves money, reduces ‘food miles’ and is increasingly part of the curriculum for young people and surely people must come before one man’s pigeons?

"Suggesting to residents of Thermopylae Gate that they face reduced security from “Tom, Dick and Harry? using the small allotments overlooks the fact that these plots, on formerly disused and overgrown land, are not yet available and will be offered first to Thermopylae Gate residents and only if under-subscribed to other East End Homes residents, many of whom live in flats without gardens.

"Despite having no obligation towards Mr Bonner, who does not live at Thermopylae Gate, an alternative plot has been offered to him to help keep the Millwall Pigeon Club going.

"If other local pigeon fanciers can operate from more modest lofts, why not Mr Bonner?"

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5 Comments

Acai said:

The loft has stood in the same garden since the war, and is important to the future survival of the Millwall Pigeon Club itself. If Bob is forced to take down the structure, the club's membership will fall behind the required minimum of five and it will be forced to close.

darren said:

Pigeon Racing has a long history in the East End of London. It should be supported. If it was another sport in the spotlight they would be chucking money at it. Do they not understand that homing pigeons will come back to the original loft? Why dont the get the local schools and teenagers involved and promote the sport instead of trying to kill it off.

John S said:

What a nice little recession proof business - take people's gardens then charge them extra to rent them back. Result? Residents pay more to stand still and everyone's security is compromised by outsiders coming in to rent the plots that those who refuse to pay more leave vacant.

One wonders how the workers of Barclays Bank feel now? Were they told they were giving up their time to spruce up the residents gardens to prepare them to be commercially rented out, or like the residents, were they kept in the dark too?

Brian Wharf said:

This loft has not been there since before the war at all, the original loft was errected by my Grandfather when he moved in, which was late 60's early 70's. He has since died and the problem has only been a problem since my Nan moved out to live nearer my Mum. Before this happened, an attempt was made by Mr Bonner to become my Nan's carer, allowing him to move into the flat that the yard was associated with.

Paul Wilson said:

John S is rather wide of the mark
suggesting that allotments are a money spinner. Allotments are not subject to
commercial rents and the veg growing plots will not be let at anything other than
peppercorn rents, so as to raise funds to reinvest in the gardens. Hasn't John noted that vegetable growing is increasingly popular and being promoted for the widespread health benefits the activity promotes?

I think Darren's comments are better informed, the Association ought to promote the sport more and work with local schools.


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