Parents fear their children’s health is being put at risk by a pigeon problem in Barrhead town centre.

Pavements under a railway bridge linking Paisley Road with Cross Arthurlie Street are said to have become a no-go zone for kids because of bird droppings which are several inches thick.

The poo has been an ongoing problem for years but there are concerns it has been worse during lockdown.

Pupils heading to three local primary schools – Cross Arthurlie, Carlibar and St John’s – are all affected, as they walk under the bridge on their way to and from lessons.

Blair McMillan told the Barrhead News how his seven-year-old son Murray’s shoes are regularly covered in bird mess when he arrives home in the afternoon.

Carlibar Primary pupil Murray then has to wash his hands in case they have become contaminated while removing the footwear.

Residents have also complained about pigeon carcasses hanging from the underside of the bridge, next to Barrhead train station, which is owned and managed by Network Rail.

They said eggs regularly fall from nests and smash on the ground below.

A net which was put up to deter the birds was taken away after it kept falling down but has never been replaced.

Mr McMillan, 46, who works as a sales executive, said: “The bridge sits at a junction between the various primary schools next to Barrhead train station, so you can’t avoid it.

“If you haven’t got a car to take the kids to school, you have to walk through all the mess left by the pigeons.

“The smell is also terrible and, every time I walk under the bridge with my son, I wonder if we are going to get hit by droppings or step on something.

“When Murray comes home, we have to tell him to wash his hands in case they have become infected when he takes his shoes off.

“Network Rail and East Renfrewshire Council have both been told about this in the past but nothing ever seems to get done.”

Councillor Danny Devlin, who represents Barrhead, is calling on the local authority to take legal action against Network Rail in a bid to solve the problem.

He said: “The council have told me they will be cleaning the area under the bridge once every two weeks but this should be the responsibility of Network Rail.

“This has been going on for about 20 years now and is unacceptable.”

Fellow councillor Paul Aitken accused Network Rail and East Renfrewshire Council of playing ‘pass the parcel’ over the pigeon issue.

He said: “There appears to be a conflict between the two organisations.

“I would urge the council to come up with a permanent solution. They need to block off the underside of the bridge to stop the pigeons nesting there.

“Surely it can’t be that difficult to do?”

A spokesman for Network Rail insisted it is up to the council to deal with the pigeon problem.

He said: “The management of pigeons is the responsibility of local authorities and we regularly work with councils to facilitate access to our structures to allow preventative measures such as netting to be installed.”

A spokeswoman for East Renfrewshire Council added: “The railway bridge belongs to Network Rail. However, our teams carry out cleaning operations at this location several times a year and this area will be cleaned again in the coming days.”