Plymouth City Council and the City Centre Company are joining forces to campaign against a growing menace – seagulls.
Gulls are becoming unwanted dinner guests at more and more outside eating places, stealing food from tables, plates – and even from people’s hands.
Now the Council and the businesses are working together to try to make the city centre a more difficult place for the birds to feast.
Councillor Brian Vincent Cabinet member for the Environment said: “We’ve seen a steady rise in the number of gulls and people complaining about their behaviour.
“Our city centre is perfect for opportunist gulls and we need to take the opportunity away. They’ve got great views, food within in spitting and swooping distance; food on tap. But these birds should be at sea where they belong and until we remove their breakfast, lunch, tea and snack sources away from them – they are going to stay here.
“We are launching this campaign to remind people we all have a part to play in reducing this problem.”
Nigel Eadie, Owner of The Original Pasty House said: ”The seagulls are a real menace. They are having a very negative affect on our business, and upon many other local eating establishments throughout the city. It’s a real shame because on a fine day, the whole ambience of the city is so adversely influenced by their aggressive behaviour.
“The seagulls swoop down upon people to try to steal food from the tables, or even people’s hands! It is brilliant news – for businesses and customers alike that Plymouth City Council and the City Centre Company has decided to implement this comprehensive strategy to help solve this very serious problem.”
The campaign gets underway this week and is designed to encourage people not to feed the birds or drop food in the street. Posters are being to put up all around the city centre warning people not to feed the birds or to litter.
Cafés and restaurants with outside eating areas are to be asked to remove empty plates, which may have food on, more speedily and notices are to go up on outside tables warning people not to feed the birds.
Other actions being taken include:
• Working closely with the businesses to ensure all their bins are seagull proof and emptied regularly
• Council enforcement officers will be patrolling the city centre and will issue warnings and penalty notices to all those who drop litter, especially food.
• Takeaways and cafes are being asked to consider screens and umbrellas around their outside tables as gulls do not like going into enclosed spaces
• Known ‘feeders’ who are feed bread to the birds in the city centre are going to be asked not to.
• Looking at long term measures such as an egg replacement programme in the city centre
The period from April to August is usually the worst period, due to the combination of adult birds protecting their chicks and better weather bringing more people outside to eat and drink, he said.
Stefan Krause, City Centre manager said: “We all need to start looking at this as problem together. There are no overnight fixes, but changing the way we behave will help lead to changes in the bird population.
“Our teams work really hard to clear up and litter pick, but gulls are getting more adventurous. We’ve collected a lot of complaints from people just to get a picture of how aggressive some of them are. We need to make sure Plymouth City Centre is not easy pickings for them.”