A town council says it is being held to ransom after Highways England said cleaning up an “extremely unpleasant” pigeon infestation would cost up to £90,000 and was at the bottom of its priority list.

Just some of the pigeons living under the bridge in Godmanchester.Just some of the pigeons living under the bridge in Godmanchester.

Godmanchester Town Council says it has been fighting to deal with the infestation for more than four years, but was told that it could only be tackled by Highways England, despite pavements being caked in pigeon droppings.

The infestation is a particular problem on pavements under the A14 bridge which runs over Cambridge Road, with "hundreds" of pigeons nesting at the site, causing issues for pedestrians who want to use the path.

Highways England says removing the birds and placing nets and spikes on the bridge could cost up to £90,000, and it was only willing to pledge £30,000 towards the estimated bill.

Councillor Sarah Conboy, the mayor of Godmanchester, said: "We have dealt with county and district councils, a number of people at Highways England and the A14 legacy fund in an attempt to resolve the matter.

"For those who continue to use this footpath, it's extremely unpleasant, slippery and the last place you would want to use unless you needed to. It is the only pedestrian access. It's appalling that all we can do is try, with the help of the district council, to keep on top of the mess but the hundreds of pigeons now make that an impossible task.

"If we could install the netting or spikes ourselves we would have done, but Highways England has always been clear that it would be illegal for the town council to do that, only it can carry out the work.

"The town council is astounded that this work could possibly cost as much as £90,000 but dismayed that so much is being spent on the A14 when the project here would be a drop in the ocean in comparison. We are at the mercy of Highways England and the community are being held to ransom."

A Highways England spokesman said: "We will continue to work with the council on this issue. Removing the pigeon infestation needs to be prioritised alongside safety critical roadworks, and we also need to ensure it is done to the right standard: both so it can be done safely and to ensure that it provides an effective long term solution to the problem."