Council agrees measures to solve seagull litter problem in Northumberland coastal community
Seagull-proof flaps are set to be fixed to litter bins in a bid to solve problems in a Northumberland coastal hotspot.
Concerns about gulls feasting on fish and chip leftovers in Seahouses had been raised by parish councillors who said the current bins were unfit for purpose.
However, North Sunderland Parish Council has now agreed to buy 15 litter bin flaps at a cost of over £800 and get them fitted before the summer.
They will also ask Northumberland County Council to carry out a deep clean of the bins before the visitor season starts or investigate funding it themselves.
A proposal to relocate some of the bins closer to the shops so people sitting on public benches would have a more pleasant environment for eating fish and chips has been ruled out.
Cllr Geoffrey Stewart, chairman, revealed he had spoken to a local businessman who was opposed to the plan because of the smell. He admitted it was now a ‘no-go’.
He suggested turning the bins around so their mouths faced away from the seating areas.
But Cllr Alan Macfarlane said: “That won’t make much difference. The flaps might stop the seagulls but they won’t stop the smells. We need them moved.
"There’s no way I would sit with my daughter eating fish and chips on a seat between two litter bins.”
Cllr Ailsa Shiel agreed: “If we’re looking at the aesthetics of the village it’s not very pleasant, it’s quite ugly.”
But Cllr David Donaldson said local business owners had told him they want the bins to stay in their current position.
Cllr Maureen Bramley said: “A way of solving part of the problem would be having the bins cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis.”
Cllr Donaldson agreed: “Seahouses is the most popular destination on the north Northumberland coast and it is in Northumberland County Council’s interests to keep it clean, tidy and free from litter.”
The issue was also brought up by local county councillor Guy Renner-Thompson at a recent coastal summit.
Paul Jones, the council’s director of local services, speaking at that meeting, said: “Litter was a problem last summer because of the sheer volume of people in the coastal area.
"What we are doing at the moment is gearing up our resources and equipment to enable us to deliver an increased frequency of litter collection activity in the peak summer season. That is increased emptying of litter bins and more staff on the ground to litter pick where there are problems.
"Even if that doesn't wholly resolve the problem we will look at providing temporary litter bins alongside the existing ones to provide additional capacity so you’re not getting overflowing bins.”
He added: “The proliferation of chip shops in Seahouses and providing the capacity for that is one of the key issues.”
Cllr Renner-Thompson hoped some funding could be secured to carry out some design work.
"That’s more of a long-term thing but the visitors are going to start coming back in a few weeks so we need to see what we can do in the shorter term,” he said.