A CONTROVERSIAL pigeon coop will be moved away from the front door of a city centre art gallery.
Geoff Ferguson, of the Kaleyards Gallery, bought a £100 electronic bird-scarer after Chester City Council erected the dovecote, fearing the associated excrement would drive away customers.
As a result not a single bird has made its home in the £15,000 structure - designed to cut pigeon numbers by allowing the replacement of eggs with decoys - although one apparently deaf pigeon does perch there occasionally.
Last Thursday Mr Ferguson met city Cllr Paul Roberts, portfolio holder for the environment, to come up with a compromise and two alternative sites are now being investigated.
Mr Ferguson said: 'Paul Roberts got involved and has done something about it. He came along and said 'I agree with you'. I would just like to thank him for his intervention and help.'
The alternative sites are still in the area of the gallery but not as close as before. Mr Ferguson is happy with either, although the City Neighbour-hood Partnership, which represents city centre residents and business people, would prefer the one furthest away.
'The fact there is an argument about the new location doesn't cause me a problem,' said Mr Ferguson. 'They are arguing on health and safety grounds, but from my point of view I'm happy with what they have done.'
Partnership chairman Martyn Delaney said: 'The way they are trying to control the population is innovative. It's never been tried before in Chester. They are tackling the problem of pigeons and we will support them wherever we can.'
However, Mr Delaney would prefer the site furthest from the gallery because this would also move it away from a walkway where people could slip on pigeon droppings.
'We are moving on the issue by consensus,' he said. 'But I won't err on the side of consensus if public safety is at risk. Public safety must come first.'
Cllr Paul Roberts explained he had surveyed the location personally.
He said: 'I've had a look at it and I certainly can see that it's rather closer to the Kaleyards Gallery than would be entirely appropriate.'
He understood that when the dove-cote idea was first mooted, the gallery was not in existence and the building was either empty or being used for a purpose which would not have been significantly affected.
'We are looking at the provision of alternative sites which there are different views about,' said Cllr Roberts. He has asked for a report to analyse the issues raised, with a planning application to relocate the pigeon coop to follow.
'We are not going to get a 100% perfect site. What I am pleased about is that everybody involved is supportive of the plan to establish a site. It's a question of getting the site which has the least adverse impact.'
He said he was pleased there has been no criticism of the appearance of the actual structure itself.