Bath and North East Somerset Council has started work on producing a long-term action plan to tackle the gull menace which plagues Bath and many other parts of the authority.
The Conservative-run authority has announced plans to bring together all the work previously undertaken on how to combat the gull problems into a single, comprehensive Gull Strategy.
The new strategy will contain measures focussed on three core objectives:
- Deterring the gull population from settling and breeding in Bath and North East Somerset;
- Removing access to food sources, including street waste, with tougher enforcement action where necessary;
- Communicating with the public to garner the support of residents, businesses and visitors in tackling the problem.
More details of the specific actions proposed to combat the gull problem will be contained within the Gull Strategy, which the Cabinet hopes to publish for public comment by the end of the year so that measures can start to be put in place by the start of the new breeding season next spring.
Conservative Councillor Chris Pearce (Kingsmead), the Council’s Cabinet Assistant for Community Services, is taking the lead on tackling the gull problem on the Council.
Councillor Pearce commented: “The problems associated with urban gulls are a huge issue throughout our area, not just in Bath but in many parts of the authority.
“They are a menace which blight the lives of residents, cause mess on our streets, and present a poor image to visitors and tourists.
“Steps have been taken over the years to try and address this issue and some progress has been made in slowing the growth of the gull population, but so far the measures have all been too piecemeal and stop-start to make a visible, long-term impact.
“Therefore, what we’ve asked the Council to do is to pull together all the work undertaken already, plus new ideas, into a Gull Strategy.
“That way we can put in place a proper action plan aimed at combating this problem.”
Leader of the Council, Councillor Tim Warren (Cons), added: “Our strategy will be focussed on three main themes: deterring the gull population from settling and breeding in B&NES, removing access to food sources, and garnering the support of residents, businesses and visitors in tackling this problem.
“We’d like to have the strategy and its specific recommendations in place by the beginning of next year so that steps can start to be taken before the new breeding season.
“We won’t be able to solve this problem overnight, it may take several years to really have an impact, but with a concerted effort I believe it will be possible to make a difference.”
Councillor Shaun McGall (Lib Dem, Oldfield) commented: “Over the previous four years, the Liberal Democrat administration made it a priority to come up with new ways of discouraging these birds and reducing their numbers.
“The gull proof over-sacks for black bin bags were an example of the innovative ideas introduced under our watch. We also held a summit on gulls.
“These improvements proved successful as the rate of gull population growth was almost brought to a standstill.
“The issue of a cull is an emotive one. We are not saying that a cull should definitely happen, but we feel it would be unhelpful for Council to rule it out completely and permanently.
“Some Councils have been forced to cull due to the risk to public health of aggressive gulls and their nests and droppings.
“Councils across the country are spending millions of pounds every year to control gulls. What we need is a national strategy. That’s why Don Foster helped secure a £250,000 fund to tackle the gull problem nationally.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that one of the first actions of the new government was to delete that fund. It’s even more disappointing that Bath’s new Conservative MP voted in favour of the cut.”