Talks aimed at finding solution to gulls menace

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ARBROATH councillor David Fairweather and his Montrose colleague Mark Salmond met with Angus South MSP Graeme Dey and representatives of Mike Weir MP on Monday to discuss an all-party approach to solving the gulls problem in the local authority’s coastal towns.

Councillor Fairweather told the Arbroath Herald that he believes the gulls menace has reached almost crisis proportions.

And he says it’s time for the authorities to adopt a tougher stance on the problem.

He said: “We are now faced with an urbanised gull which has lived in our communities for decades and which has no fear of man. Instances of attacks are on the increase and these large and powerful birds can be terrifying, particularly to children.

“So far we have taken a softly, softly approach, asking people not to feed these birds and not to leave their domestic refuse in plastic bags so that they can get into it.

“However, the situation is becoming so serious that we felt it was time we all got together to explore the options available to us.

“Both Mark and I were delighted with the co-operation shown and the meeting was very constructive.”

Mr Fairweather continued: “We will now ask the chief executive [of Angus Council] to get in touch with other local authorities to ask what measures they are taking to protect their populations from the urban gull menace. We will explore all the options available and if they are being successful with something we will adapt it to our situation.

“Similarly, we will look at the legislation which covers how we can approach the problem and if it needs tweaked, we will see if we can get support from Edinburgh and Westminster to do that.”

A representative of Mike Weir MP added: “The nuisance urban gulls cause in towns all along the north-east coast of Scotland is something which requires everyone working closely together to find a long term solution as the problem is noticeably getting worse every year.

“This meeting was an excellent opportunity to share ideas and possible solutions with further  investigations now taking place.

“Mr Weir’s office is currently seeking details of any legislation which remain within Westminster’s remit.”

Graeme Dey MSP said: “The discussions we had were positive and constructive reflecting the fact everyone involved recognises there is a significant problem which requires to be addressed.

“A number of things arose from the meeting which the various participants have gone off to progress.

“In the short term the aim is to identify measures which may have worked in other parts of the country and see if these could be implemented here in Angus.

“But we are also looking to clarify exactly what scope the council has within the legislation covering this issue laid down both by Holyrood and Westminster.”

Previously councillors Fairweather and Salmond had met with Angus Council’s chief executive, Richard Stiff, to discuss measures that the local authority can develop to try and reduce the seagull menace.

Councillor Fairweather said: “We had a constructive discussion with the chief executive and between us identified areas for improvement in how Angus Council could communicate better with the public on how to request the free nest and egg removal service that Angus Council provides to residential properties.

“Another area that we have asked officers to look at is what legal measures can be put in place to stop people feeding the gulls in public places. This is just encouraging the gulls to our town centres and something Councillor Salmond and myself are receiving constant complaints about.”

Councillor Salmond added: “We were advised again that seagulls are protected by legislation and that we must work within the law, but this is difficult to accept when these birds are causing so many problems and are now becoming violent and aggressive in our town centres.

“I have also asked the chief executive to look at how the scheme could be expanded to smaller commercial properties and what the likely costings and exclusions to this extension to the scheme would be. After all, gulls do not discriminate between residential and commercial buildings.”