‚People who feed pigeons are mentally ill‘
In a report from Liverpool City Council, the statement said: „Pigeon Feeding – Often undertaken by individuals with mental health needs.“
The statement was part of the council’s Street Activity Management Plan, and has enraged members of the mental health charity MIND.
The council based the report on a survey taken several years ago, but was unable to provide a copy to back up the claim.
It was estimated that in 2007, street cleaners in Liverpool spent a total of 88 hours a day cleaning up pigeon droppings, which forced the council to invest in the „Robop“ – a robotic bird of prey perched on buildings to deter pigeons.
A spokeswoman at MIND blasted the claim as „outlandish“ and adding to discrimination towards those suffering from mental illness, reported the Daily Telegraph.
Kate Stringer, Head of Communications at Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma programme run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, said: „This is another example of the unhelpful misconceptions that surround people with mental health problems.
„One in four of us will experience a mental illness at some point in our lives and so to make such outlandish assumptions is only adding to the discrimination that so many of us are having to face everyday.“
Liverpool Liberal party leader Steve Radford called the claim „ludicrous“ and „stereotypical“ and slammed the council as „naive“.
He said: „The claim is incredibly insulting. There are people who like feeding pigeons without thinking of the consequences, but to call them mentally ill is just ludicrous.
„Their statement is condescending and naive. We have seen problems with pigeon feeding but to suggest they have mental health problems is not only stereotyping but incredibly offensive.“
A Liverpool council spokesperson said: „The reference in the report relates to a survey carried out by the council about five years ago when it was considering whether to prosecute persistent pigeon feeders.
„It was found it would be inappropriate to prosecute many of the people involved because they had mental health issues. This of course is not to say that everybody who feeds pigeons falls into that category.
„What we try and do is educate people about the harmful effects feeding pigeons can have.“