PEOPLE living in a Basingstoke maisonette block are being forced to give up their balconies because of problems with pigeons.

Residents in the upper floor of maisonettes in Westray Close, Oakridge, are being kept awake at night by the birds' cooing, and are constantly having to clear up mess left by the creatures as they look for somewhere to nest.

Some occupants have already resorted to putting up netting to deter the birds - effectively destroying the view from their balconies - and others are considering following suit.

Richard Ketteringham, 34, said: "The pigeons create a terrible mess, but the noise is the major problem. I work as a courier and sometimes do not get home until quite late. I am then woken up at 5am by pigeons on the balcony, which is a bit much.

"Last year, we let the pigeons nest on the balcony and they had chicks, which made an awful racket, so this year we have tried to keep them out by shooing them away and getting rid of any nesting material as soon as they start to collect it. I think netting is the only option in the long term, but it ruins the view from the balcony.

"We have been to the council, but they said it is not their problem and put us on to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who told us we would have to pay them to do anything about the problem."

Natasha Machin, 34, is one of the residents who have already put up nets to keep the birds out.

"I realised the pigeons were a problem when I first moved in four years ago and put the netting up to stop them getting in," she said. "It has worked, but it looks awful and I cannot really enjoy the balcony as I would like to."

Emma Broom, head of streetcare at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said: "The council is responsible for controlling rodent pests and not bird pests.

"If residents have problems with pigeons nesting on their property, we suggest calling a private pest control company."

First published: Thursday, May 11, 2006