Measures discussed to combat gulls problem

ANGUS Council may be asked to find additional cash for the more frequent emptying of rubbish bins in town centres to combat the gulls menace in local high streets.

A new report on the problem drawn up by the local authority’s chief executive Richard Stiff and his staff outlines the easy pickings that the birds have when bins are put out.

The research was requested by Arbroath councillor David Fairweather and his Angus Alliance colleague, Mark Salmond, Montrose.

The document includes a range of possible measures to combat the airborne menace.

Councillor Salmond believed that there was confusion among the public about what could and could not be done to control the gull population. He felt that the public deserved some clarity on this major issue.

He explained that one key area highlighted in the chief executive’s report is the fact that the current council house tenancy agreement prevents the council as landlords from acting to remove a nest where the tenant has not given consent.

The Montrose representative said he would like to see this clause removed from future new tenancies to allow nest removal from all council properties where there is a cause for concern.

He added that he would expect officers to move quickly on this matter in consultation with tenants’ groups.

However, Councillor Salmond believed that one area in which the report fell short was in improving the frequency and timing of the collection of refuse in town centres and increasing the frequency of the emptying of town centre bins.

He believes that the council could act quickly on the suggestion of a pilot scheme for the introduction of gull-proof refuse sacks for areas in Angus where wheelie bins cannot be used.

Arbroath East and Lunan councillor Donald Morrison congratulated the chief executive and his officers for providing a comprehensive and compact report.

He commented: “There can’t be a burgh or village around Angus which does not experience a problem with gulls either nesting, the noise or mess but the reality is gulls have only adapted to our society, to our environment, by picking up the discarded pizza or plundering refuse bags left in the street.

“So the pilot scheme on gull proof bags will be interesting to gauge its effectiveness, though can we look at collecting those overflow bin bags on bin day too?”

He went on: “Increasing the avenues of communication is also a major factor and I noticed throughout Inverness all the litter bins had a bright yellow A4 sticker clearly stating not to feed the gulls. This is something which should be looked at here, as it can be done in-house and is cost effective.

“We also need to look at communicating the message better at all food and catering businesses so their customers are fully aware and I have previously suggested some ideas.

“Maybe also raise awareness by reminding households that by throwing food scraps out for the birds, this will attract gulls, and instead ask them to use bird feeders, available for as little as £1.”

Councillor Morrison concluded: “There has already been some hope for residents blighted by the breeding season with proposals which would see the end of a large nesting area in Arbroath at the former factory unit along Ernest and Palmer Street.

“However, there are other empty properties which act as a nesting magnate for gulls so we may need to look at tackling this in the future.”