THESE are some of the hundreds of pigeons which have taken up roosting on Blackburn’s vacant old market who will be looking for a new home when the buildings are demolished early next year.

Town centre shopkeepers fear the disturbed birds will swoop elsewhere, spread dirt and disease, and one of their leaders wants action taken to reduce their population.

Chamber of Trade chairman Tony Duckworth and Tory planning spokesman Alan Cottam want a repeat of the cull in Blackburn’s central area which saw more than 1,000 pigeons shot in 1996/1997 as part of the borough’s clean-up campaign.

However, council leaders see no reason to take such drastic action now.

Since the old market closed in June 2011, more and more pigeons have been flocking to the vacant buildings as our picture shows.

However, Blackburn with Darwen Council is now seeking planning permission to knock down the empty shell, clearing the site for redevelopment, possibly with a supermarket.

This has concerned Mr Duckworth, who said town centre traders were concerned what would happened when the birds were forced to move on.

He said: “Pigeons are flying vermin, which spread dirt and disease.

“Shopkeepers in the town are now very concerned about what happens when the old market is knocked down and where the birds go next.

“We don’t want them flying onto other buildings and spreading dirt and droppings.

“There are too many and it is harming the borough’s efforts to clean up Blackburn centre.

“It makes the streets dirty and slippy. People do not like it.

“It sound cruel, but we need to cull the pigeons to get the numbers down, as we do with rats.

“They are both vermin and spread dirt, and disease and mess.”

Coun Cottam said: “There are too many pigeons in the town centre.

“When the old market is demolished, they will just move elsewhere.

“We need to have a cull of the pigeons. People don’t want them all over the town centre.”

But the council has no current plans for a cull.

Coun Faryad Hussain, executive member for environmental improvement and sustainability, said: “We keep an eye on the pigeon population, and don’t feel there is a particular problem at this time.”