MESSY squatters who caused a pongy problem have cost Malmesbury Town Council around £10,000.

Pigeons, thought to have been evicted when long neglected buildings in Oxford Street underwent emergency repairs, moved in to the roof space at the town hall causing damage with a build up of waste.

The Wesleyan Room had to be shut last month while contractors cleared an accumulation of feathers, nest debris and dead birds from the void above.

But now staff are hoping new measures aimed at preventing the birds from roosting will encourage their unwelcome lodgers to take wing.

Town clerk Jeff Penfold told the Standard the council had first tried to deal with the slippery hazard caused by pigeons who decided ledges above the entrance to the tourist information centre and lobby were the ideal place to sit.

“We concentrated our main efforts on the pigeons outside that were causing major problems because they would lodge just above the doors,.” He said.

“We knew that some were coming in through the vents in the roof space, but I think as time dragged on while we were trying to get the anti pigeon measures through listed building consent, they decided to start nesting in there.”

The sudden bout of warmer weather accelerated the problem and soon staff were having to sweep up feathers and nest material from the flood of the main room.

There was also the even more unpleasant problem of rotting bird corpses top contend with.

But now, after protracted negotiations with Wiltshire Council, the town hall has new netting and spikes designed to keep the pigeons away.

Mr Penfold said the scheme was not as extensive as the council had wanted. The original bid was for more spikes to prevent the birds from landing on the building.

But he hoped the more limited measures would do the trick.

The cost of the work, which was put out to tender, included three weeks of work by the contractors and the hire of a cherry picker.

Hirers were accommodated elsewhere in the town hall while the Wesleyan Room was closed. It was due to reopen this week.