Councillors at loggerheads over Scarborough town centre's gull droppings and planters

A row has broken out between Scarborough councillors over how the borough’s streets should be kept free from gull droppings.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 8:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 8:50 am
Some of the offending gull mess around the planters.
Some of the offending gull mess around the planters.

Conservatives have attacked the Labour-led borough council for the mess on the town’s streets and accused it of wasting taxpayers' money on new planters that they say have been placed in locations where they are liable to get damaged.

In response, Labour cabinet member Cllr Tony Randerson said the claims were “absolute rubbish” and said that the borough was putting resources into keeping the streets clean.

Two members of the council’s shadow cabinet, Tory councillors Clive Pearson and Roberta Swiers, have called for urgent action to remove the rows of planters that have been placed in Vernon Road and Aberdeen Walk in Scarborough.

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Clive Pearson - called for action to remove planters

In a statement, they said: “Not only are the planters in shaded areas, denying them of sunshine, but they are in places where they are already showing signs of distress and being damaged by seagull faeces.

“We have received a number of complaints about what would appear to be a foolhardy decision to site these potentially attractive planters in this way, giving the impression to the public that the council did not know where to site them, so they were tucked away in areas where they cannot be appreciated and where they will be quickly become an eyesore because of the seagull droppings.”

The two councillors believe the planters should be more effectively placed in the town centre.

They added: “In their present locations they cannot be appreciated, will quickly deteriorate because of the lack of sunshine and seagull fouling.

Roberta Swiers - called for action to remove planters

"The public will quite rightly view their siting as wasting scarce public money especially at a time when the council’s resources are under considerable pressure as a result of Covid pandemic.

“The situation is even more aggravated by the recent comments by the cabinet member CllrTony Randerson that he would aim to see Scarborough’s town centre be the cleanest ever.

“With apparently little, if any effort, being made to rid the main shopping areas of seagull fouling, his comments are a nonsense.”

They say the town centre is now “foul-smelling” and unsafe and called for immediate action.

Tony Randerson - claims about planters "absolute rubbish"

Cllr Randerson responded that the Conservative member’s claims about the planters and the lack of council effort to clean streets were “absolute rubbish”.

He said the issue of cleaning was being complicated by the sandstone surfaces being stained white from years of gull droppings but this was something the council was looking to address.

Cllr Randerson said that after the sandstone is cleaned the staining returns to the surface.

He added: “I attended a trial with a company over the weekend in Scarborough which specialises in removing these stains and they showed us a bit of kit they have.

“At the moment, irrespective of what the Tory opposition is saying we are doing everything possible to alleviate the seagull excrement as much as possible and certainly more resources have been put in place to achieve this.

“We are doing a lot but it is not going to happen overnight.

“If we go for this new piece of kit that can help with the sandstone then the turnaround is about five weeks so we may look to loan something in the interim period, that’s what I’ve asked the officers for.”

Cllr Randerson said the council was also trying to work with landlords and building owners in the town centres to get them to put up netting on their properties to stop birds from nesting and leading to areas getting covered in droppings.