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Nesting doves forces Fenland Council to delay dismantling fountain

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Doves nesting in historic March Fountain has put a temporary block on plans by Fenland District Council to begin dismantling it.

Malletts jeweller joint owner Gary Richmond – campaigning to halt the fountain being moved to a new position outside his shop – pointed out to the council a week ago that the doves were inside the fountain.

“The dismantling of the fountain should now be delayed due to an oversight by FDC and the consultants,” he said at the time.

Planned work to dismantle March’s Coronation Fountain as part of the ongoing town centre regeneration has been postponed to protect nesting doves.

Planned work to dismantle March’s Coronation Fountain as part of the ongoing town centre regeneration has been postponed to protect nesting doves.

Today Fenland Council has announced it will postpone work to dismantle it.

Mr Richmond said: “Every year doves which are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1982 nest in the fountain.

“Despite the disruption around them they have nested again this year.

“The nest and birds are protected by the Act and it’s illegal to intentionally remove or damage the nest until the young have fledged.”

He added: “The fountain is covered by CCTV therefore any illegal act will be recorded. The RSPB have been made aware of the situation.

The fourth councillor to vote to move the fountain was Conservative Cllr Meekins, who ironically had fought the 2019 local elections as an independent. He was enticed to re-join the Conservatives in 2021. PHOTO: Rob Murray

Planned work to dismantle March’s Coronation Fountain as part of the ongoing town centre regeneration has been postponed to protect nesting doves. Photo: Rob Murray

“The birds are very active in completing their nest as the footage shows.”

A council spokesperson confirmed that planned work to dismantle March’s Coronation Fountain has been postponed to protect nesting doves.

“Work to carefully remove the Grade II listed fountain was due to begin on Monday, 26 June, ahead of it being stored and later relocated once the town centre works are complete,” said the spokesperson.

“However, as Broad Street regeneration contractor Octavius prepared to start work on site last week, workers were alerted that the historic structure is often used by nesting doves and a nest was discovered.

“The works will now be rescheduled in a few weeks’ time after the young birds have fledged and the nest is no longer in use.”

The spokesperson added: “Fenland District Council will work with Octavius to ensure no ecological impact to wildlife is caused by the works.

Official photo by Fenland Council (left) showing new position of March Fountain. On the right is the photo produced by Malletts jewellers which they claim shows the true horror of relocating it outside their shop.

Official photo by Fenland Council (left) showing new position of March Fountain. On the right is the photo produced by Malletts jewellers which they claim shows the true impact of relocating it outside their shop.

“The project team has already engaged with an independent ecological survey company to undertake a survey of the site within seven days of the birds leaving their nest, to ensure no ongoing impact to wildlife.

“This report will be published on the council’s website in due course.”

A spokesperson for the March Broad Street regeneration project said: “As all bird’s nests are protected by law, we are postponing all work on the fountain until after the fledglings have left the nest.

“We don’t want to disturb the birds and will take any necessary steps to ensure they are protected.”

“The RSPB has also been informed and the area is now being monitored. Work will only recommence on the fountain following completion of the independent ecological survey.

“In the meantime, work on other aspects of the town centre regeneration will continue.”

Linzi Betts and Mr Richmond who own Malletts jewellers in Broad Street, March, believe Fenland councillors have made a massive mistake in agreeing to move the coronation fountain close to their shop.

They have campaigned against the decision – and queried why no councillor came to speak with them prior to the decision being taken.

 

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