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Culling not the answer to seagull nuisance, residents told

Seagulls on a rooftop.
Seagulls on a rooftop.

‘Unless you’ve lived with seagulls on your roof, you just don’t know’ – that’s from a Blyth resident who is calling on the county council to tackle the nuisance.

Sheila Weir raised the issue at last Wednesday’s meeting of the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council, adding: “The screeching down the chimney is terrible.”

Coun Eileen Cartie, who represents the Wensleydale ward in Blyth.

Coun Eileen Cartie, who represents the Wensleydale ward in Blyth.

Mrs Weir and her husband presented a petition signed by people living in the likes of Briarwood Road, Woodbine Terrace, Bader Court, Bader House, Woodside, Brinkburn Avenue and Nixon Terrace, asking that the council ‘takes steps to alleviate them from our roof’.

Phil Soderquest, the county council’s head of public protection, said: “I can’t argue with the nuisance they cause, but the problem is finding a long-term solution.”

He told the meeting that culling or nest removal are often short-term fixes as they don’t prevent the birds from returning.

This is over and above the potential negative publicity and the practical issues given that seagulls are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, meaning a licence to kill them would only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

“Food is the issue,” Mr Soderquest said. “We would advocate an approach of responsibility about food waste and what people do with it.”

He added that these issues are not exclusive to Blyth and that he would continue to liaise with Mr and Mrs Weir as well as talk to coastal town and parish councils to try to develop a solution, involving the likes of better bins plus signage and publicity about disposing of food waste properly.

Coun Eileen Cartie said she was concerned that the gulls could be quite vicious and may end up attacking children.

Coun Grant Davey agreed with Mr Soderquest that ‘it’s about cutting off the food source’ and highlighted the success of introducing special bins in both Newbiggin and Amble.

“We have to do something, but it’s all over the county,” added Coun Tom Wilson. “Some of the gulls have never seen the sea, they live off the landfill.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service