Agenda item

Proposed Disruption and Dispersal Programme for Herring Gulls

To consider a report by the Director (TW) (reference 17/40) attached.


The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (TW) (Reference 17/40) in respect of a proposed disruption and dispersal programme for herring gulls.  As reported under Item 3, Ms Daphne Barr was present to ask the following question:

I realise you are considering the proposed disruption and dispersal programme for herring gulls but it needs to be taken in conjunction with other controls.  I spend time on South Bay, walking by the harbour and along the front to the Old Pool and beyond.  I have reported being a gull victim as I lunched at a harbour-side café.  I recently walked from the harbour to the Spa Bridge looking for signs telling people not to feed the gulls.  There was one, which is small and situated quite high up on a signpost outside the public toilets, saying Don't Feed the Gulls.  It's a good, sensible, to-the-point statement, or order.  But no-one sees it.  People sit on the seats along the front and outside Ask Restaurant eating their meal; what's left they throw to the waiting birds.  There is no visible sign or indication anywhere to say don't feed the gulls.  Then when they get to the bin to throw away the packaging, they may see a poster saying "Your Food is not their food".  What?  By then it's done anyway, and will they read right at the bottom of the poster in smaller print: "Never feed the gulls"?  Why has the Council not put up signs saying DON'T FEED THEGULLS?  Visitors are not generally aware that feeding the birds creates such a problem and it is the responsibility of the Council to raise awareness. Signs need to be posted on railings, in obvious places where people eat out - as our visitors are encouraged to do to support the local economy.  But inform them with signs that are clearly visible and to the point - don't feed the gulls.  It seems profligate use of taxpayer money to spend £36,500 a year based on track records of a few areas in the South of England when even the basics of signage and proper waste disposal are not yet in place.  There are new signs every few yards for the RNLI do's and don'ts, stickers on every other lamp post to clean up after your dog, but nothing to educate the public not to feed the gulls.  The same signs are also needed in the town centre where gulls swoop for food.   The need for signage is urgent - when will it start?


The Portfolio Holder, Councillor Chatt then provided the following reply:

At the Council’s recent Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting on 11 January 2017, approval was given for a revised action plan for 2017, to minimise the public nuisance caused by seagulls in the borough.  This action plan contains nine main work streams to address this issue, one of which, is outlined in this report. Ms Barr’s main point that more visual signage advising the public not to feed the gulls or drop their litter is well made and is a key issue covered in the Council’s action plan. At the end of July 2016, Council officers distributed a series of A2 to A5 sized posters, with these key messages to seafront business properties (particularly food businesses) along Whitby and Scarborough.  Filey businesses were also circulated these posters, via Filey Town Council. Businesses were encouraged to display these posters for their customers to see.  Furthermore, approximately 40 signs were produced and fitted to public bins along various locations in Whitby, Scarborough and Filey. However, it is our intention, over the next two or three months, to produce and fit more signage to clearly display for all visitors and residents to see along the seafronts across the three main towns in the borough.

The feedback from a number of local authorities who have employed the services of a specialist company to introduce a disruption and dispersal programme against herring gulls (Plymouth and Bath), has been positive and warrants the Council spending the proposed funds for an initial one year contract. The Council will closely monitor and evaluate the outcome of this programme before any decision is taken as to whether or not to extend it.


In the ensuing discussion, Cabinet Members recognised the importance of deterring people from feeding gulls by raising awareness, the display of signs and enforcement.  The Portfolio Holder, Councillor Chatt acknowledged the contribution of the South Bay Traders Association in researching dispersal programmes for herring gulls, which he was prepared to support on a one year trial basis, whilst noting that this was only one initiative among many in the action plan.  If successful and affordable, the programme would be rolled out to other areas of the Borough including Filey.  Gulls would not disappear overnight, and it was the cooperation of the public – visitors, residents and businesses – which would ensure the nuisance relating to gulls diminished.

RESOLVED that the Cabinet approves the appointment of NBC Environment to undertake a disruption and dispersal programme in 2017 for the local herring gull population in specific locations around Whitby harbour and Scarborough’s south bay.



To seek an exemption from tendering for a disruption and dispersal programme for herring gulls in specific locations around Whitby harbour and Scarborough’s south bay in 2017.



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