Council launches new scheme to tackle growing problem of gull mess on Yorkshire coast

Scarborough Council has launched what it calls a twin “prevention and management approach” to tackling the growing issue of gull mess in the borough’s towns.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 20th August 2020, 9:23 am
Updated Thursday, 20th August 2020, 9:24 am
Gull mess in Scarborough town centre.
Gull mess in Scarborough town centre.

It comes following complaints and residents about the state of the streets and pavements, many of which are stained white with years of guano.

A petition was even launched to ask the authority to hand over its cleaning operations to a local firm, which had been cleaning the streets for free during the pandemic.

Now, the council is rolling out the scheme to encourage businesses to invest in foolproof netting and have also purchased new cleaning equipment.

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Every year in spring and early summer, Kittiwakes and Herring Gulls nest on the rooftops and window ledges of many town centre and seafront buildings in the borough of Scarborough.

Droppings from the gulls is constant and leaves an unpleasant trail down the side of buildings and on surrounding pavements.

On hot days it also produces a strong ammonia smell.

To help prevent gulls nesting in the first place, the borough council has opened a grant funding scheme to assist private building owners and tenants with the cost of purchasing and installing gull proofing material.

The scheme has been launched to coincide with the end of the gull breeding season.

A Scarborough Council spokesman said: “We will contribute 50%, up to a maximum of £2,000, towards the costs of gull proofing any private buildings in defined areas of Filey, Scarborough and Whitby.

“The work must be carried out by our approved contractor, NBC Environment. This is to ensure the work is consistent and of the required high standard to ensure gulls do not become trapped in the proofing material.”

Maps of the eligible areas and an application form for match funding are available to download at or by emailing [email protected]

Anyone without internet access should call 01723 232322.

Cllr Michelle Donohue Moncrieff, cabinet member for Environment and Sustainability encouraged businesses to sign up.

She said: “Gulls are part of life in our borough and love them or loathe them, we’ve got to try to find better ways of managing how we live with them.

“We accept that we need to do more to keep the pavements cleaner and in return, we need those responsible for private buildings in the borough’s worst affected areas to be part of the collective effort to tackle the problem by installing material to prevent nesting.

“Our match funding scheme is designed to help people do just that in a more affordable way.

“I encourage people to submit their applications as soon as possible so that we can assess them in time for arranging installation in the autumn and winter months.”

The council has also inbvested in a new high-pressure cleaner in a bid to tackle some of the more stubborn areas.

Cllr Tony Randerson, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, added: “I have always been passionate about looking at solutions that would allow us to improve how we clean gull guano from the borough’s worst affected areas.

“I am delighted that we have taken delivery of a new high-pressure hot water cleaning machine and our dedicated officers will waste no time in putting it to work to make our pavements cleaner and more pleasant places to be.

“Looking ahead to next year, it is true that gulls will ‘go to the toilet’ more frequently than any machine or team of people can be deployed to an area.

“However, we are committed to keeping on top of the problem and will deploy the machine as often as we can throughout the nesting season as well as all year round for enhanced cleaning.”