04 August 2021
What to do about the seagulls? It’s an issue the Town Council has to address regularly, and our Local Services Committee discussed it this week.
On the one hand, gulls can be a nuisance. They’re scavengers, they hunt for food where they see human activity, and they’ll happily rummage in bins if they’re not secure. They’re noisy, very aggressive when defending their nests and young, and their droppings are prolific, and smelly.
On the other hand, they’re a protected species, declining in numbers nationwide, and their disappearance would be a genuine reduction in bio diversity. What’s to do?
At the committee councillors addressed both sides of the argument. As the Town Clerk explained, even if the council wanted to reduce the number of seagulls roosting in the Town Centre, the current law would make that hugely difficult, because the licences required are specific to each piece of land or building, have to explain how the gulls threaten health and safety, and only allow trained operators to implement measures against the gulls. As officers explained to the committee, a law change would be required to make town wide measures against the gulls possible, and there seems to be no appetite for that.
So what’s to be done? Well, actually, there’s lots that can be done. First things first, we have to stop attracting seagulls and other scavengers to the town centre with food. That means improving the security of our bins, not discarding food on the street, and not feeding the gulls. They are, after all, wild animals that should be feeding out at sea, not rummaging in bins or taking chips from visitors.
The second thing that needs to be done is we need to improve our street cleaning. We can’t stop gulls producing waste, but we can work harder to clean it away, reducing the smell and the risk of slipping. We’ll be talking to NCC and to town centre traders about whether we can use pressure washers on the pavements, and whether there’s more can be done to clean up shop frontages.
The third thing that needs to be done is to talk to the Chamber of Trade, to shop tenants and to landlords about how we make it harder for gulls to roost on gutters and rooftops. That needs to be done over the winter, before the nesting season begins, and it’s a conversation we’re keen to have, not least because it fits with other conversations we want to have about brightening up and improving our high street.
Watch this space.
Gareth Davies Ll.B MIPM MAC