New powers to control seagulls may be on way - COMMENT ON THIS STORY

Brid Harbour Top'Seagulls attacking the Public'PA1128-24e
Brid Harbour Top'Seagulls attacking the Public'PA1128-24e

COUNCILS around the country could be given new powers to deal with nuisance seagulls after a parliamentary debate.

It is a move which East Riding of Yorkshire Council would back and one which many residents in Bridlington would welcome – following a number of seagull attacks on people this year.

In Westminster last week, MPs discussed the issues surrounding seagulls nesting in urban areas, such as noise and mess from droppings and scattered litter – as well as the swooping attacks from gulls protecting their young, which were seen in Bridlington this summer.

The possibility of changes to licensing controls have been welcomed, which could see landowners taking early action to limit problems with birds in residential areas – but rule out culling.

Paul Bellotti, head of housing and public protection at the council, said: “The council would welcome consultation with the Government about the merits of requiring land owners to take preventative action to deal with noise or other nuisance caused by gulls colonising land or structures in urban areas.

“Culling is not the answer as gull numbers are in decline and unless the food supply is reduced at the same time, other seagulls will be attracted to the area.”

During the Westminster debate, Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, called on the government to look into the problems seaside towns face with seagulls, and look into passing legislation which allows councils to take action to deal noise, smell or other nuisance.

One council, in seaside resort Aldeburgh in Suffolk, has introduced fines of up to £2,500 to stop people feeding the gulls.

Despite agreeing that feeding gulls can lead to them moving inland, Mr Belotti said fines are not an option in Bridlington.

He said: “Bridlington is no different to any other seaside resort. Seagulls can be aggressive when protecting their young or finding food to feed them, but incidents of attacks on people are rare.

“The council uses a range of measures to stop people feeding seagulls and is not taking the step of issuing visitors to Bridlington and its residents with fines.

“We can all do more to reduce the amount of leftover food littered in our streets and also proof buildings against gulls nesting in places with their young, particularly where it might cause nuisance to people.

“Taking these simple steps to deter seagulls will reduce the problems experienced for what is a national concern in coastal resorts and, for that matter, in several cities also.”

Mick Walker, whose mother Jennie Walker, 78, spent more nearly a month in Bridlington Hospital after falling and breaking her pelvis when seagulls swooped on her near her home in Kirkgate Mews, has backed any plans to control the numbers of birds.

Mrs Walker had been trying to help an elderly man who had already been attacked by the seagulls when she fell.

Mick said: “Thankfully she is on the mend now. She is back home and just starting to walk again with crutches – but it has taken a long time.

“I would like to see a cull on any birds that are nesting on people’s property and causing a problem, as they were at my mum’s house.

“A big problem is obviously people feeding them, which brings them further into the town.

“I have lived in Bridlington all my life and I have seen the problem with seagulls in the town get worse.”

Also this summer, 76-year-old Neville Palmer was left covered in blood after seagulls attacked him outside the Shoe Zone store on Bridlington Harbour, leaving him needing 30 minutes of treatment by paramedics for two deep puncture wounds on top of his head.

However Bridlington MP Greg Knight believes the issue is an “intermittent problem” in Bridlington, compared with the other seaside towns mentioned in the debate.

He said: “In the past three years I have not received any correspondence from people in Bridlington about a problem with gulls, which leads me to believe that it is not considered a problem by most of the town.

“I have spoken to many tourists in Bridlington who have told me that one of the things they look forward to when visiting the area is the sight and sound of the birds.

“Reports of attacks seem to be quite rare, so I would not support the culling of seagulls as they are in decline.

“I do however realise that there are differing opinions towards gulls, and I urge anyone in the town who believe there is a problem to email or write to me.”