In a flap over greedy gulls

Seagulls in Amble.
Seagulls in Amble.

FLOCKS of aggressive seagulls pose a significant health hazard in a north Northumberland seaside town because people are feeding them or discarding food, it has been claimed.

There have been calls to try to tackle the issue in Amble, amid fears that the problem will get worse during the tourist season.

The matter was raised at this month’s Amble Town Council meeting after an email from a concerned resident about the situation.

It read: “Can I draw the council’s attention for discussion at the next full council meeting to the significant health hazard posed by flocks of aggressive seagulls in and around the Amble harbour area. This is a direct result of the public and visitors feeding them or discarding food purchased normally from local take-aways and with the forthcoming tourist season approaching this will exasperate this issue.

“I am aware that primarily this is the responsibility of Warkworth Harbour Commissioners, however it is bad practice and happening in a main Amble tourist area.

“I believe signage/enforcement should be recommended to make the public aware of the problem in this area with a notification in the Ambler for local people to be informed of this.”

After the meeting, town council chairman Leslie Bilboe said that he did not think there was an easy answer to the issue.

“Amble is a seaside town and we will always have seagulls. I think it is a very difficult problem to deal with. If people don’t feed them then they will raid the bins.”

Clerk of the council Elaine Brown told members that she had searched on the internet for areas which suffer from problems with seagulls and highlighted Dumfries, in Scotland, as an example.

The town has had problems for many years with gulls diving at the public or snatching their food.

However, last year, Dumfries and Galloway Council rejected the possibility of a by-law banning the feeding of seagulls in Dumfries town centre or other regulations to ban feeding the birds.

Earlier in 2010, the council had been recommended that educating the public was a more suitable alternative to a by-law, including posters, leaflets and signs attached to litter bins encouraging people not to feed the gulls.

Members at Amble heard that any signage in the town to tackle the gull issue would be the responsibility of the harbour commissioners and any complaint should be passed onto them.

This was agreed by members and the email was forwarded to the commissioners, and the resident’s comments have been noted.