No end in sight for seagull menace

Seagull menace on the seafront.Picture Richard Ponter 133113e
Seagull menace on the seafront.Picture Richard Ponter 133113e

A task group is to be set up to come up with solutions to deal with the borough’s seagull nuisance - despite Scarborough Council admitting its hands are tied.

The authority’s Resources Scrutiny Committee met today (Monday) to hear a report into the situation with the winged menace following numerous complaints from members of the public.

Councillors heard that since culling of the gulls stopped in 1990 the population of birds in the borough had reached its highest ever recorded level, with 1,500 breeding pairs counted in 2001.

The council’s director of service delivery, Andy Skelton, told the meeting: “There has not been a count since then but as someone who was here during the cull I would say that to my eye there are more birds now than there were in 2001.”

In the 1978 the council used narcotics in food to cull gulls but, following protests, this practice was stopped and culling is now illegal under law.

Mr Skelton said that humane population control measures ‘in the main have not worked’ and the bird population was now growing.

He said there were two type of birds that were common to the borough, the herring gull and the kittiwake.

The herring gull is the type found on roofs and stealing food from the hands of people on the sea front and the latter nests on buildings close to the sea and is often the one responsible for noise and dropping complaints.

Under law it is illegal to tamper in anyway with a kittiwake’s nest or eggs.

In order to remove a herring gull nest or egg requires the council to show a risk to public health or safety.

Education of people visiting towns in the borough, and gull proof bins, were the preferred options put forward by councillors.

“However, we must not start fining tourists for feeding gulls or we are just going to drive people away,” noted cllr Andrew Jenkinson.

Other councillors felt that it was something people living in the borough had to deal with.

Cllr Bill Chatt said: “If you live in Scarborough you hear seagulls. It’s the price you pay for living by the sea.

“What do people expect to hear? Rhinoceroses? Tigers? This is some seagulls not Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.”

The task group will report back later in the year with some recommendations for the council to take forward.