Monday, August 28, 2006

Minimum Wage for Birds

Here's another example of unusual GLA spending, uncovered by my colleague Bob Neill. At least the involvement of Westminster Council has saved on the hourly rate.

Bob Neill: Is spending £46,280 on providing a hawk to fly in Trafalgar Square really a priority use of taxpayers' money?

Ken Livingstone: Pigeon infestation was identified as a major problem for Trafalgar Square, representing a potential health issue as well as a major deterrent to visitors. It also has serious implications in terms of the damage to the historic fabric of the site.

The flying of a hawk was introduced as part of an overall strategy that has significantly reduced pigeon numbers on the Square. This strategy also included a controlled feeding programme, public education and proactive action by the Heritage Wardens. The hawk has proved to be a successful part of this package of measures.

The reduction of the number of pigeons on the Square has greatly improved the local environment. The result has been to make the square morehygienicc for everyone, to improve the space for the events that are held throughout the year - and to reduce the cost required to clean the listed architecture and street furniture in the square.

Pigeon reduction is just a small part of the large programme undertaken by the Squares management team to ensure the smooth running of Trafalgar and Parliament Squares.

By retendering the contract incollaborationn with Westminster Council, the cost for the hawk has gone down from an average of £50 to £38.75 per hour.

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