Bury St Edmunds: Council’s £12k payout to help clear noisy gulls from its own depot roof

Gulls posed a problem for the council Gulls posed a problem for the council

Mariam Ghaemi West Suffolk reporter mariam.ghaemi@archant.co.uk
Friday, July 25, 2014
12:00 PM

Noisy gulls have left a council with a bill of £12,000 so far.

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St Edmundsbury Borough Council has been working to try and ease the problem of the increasing pairs of breeding gulls on the roof of its Olding Road depot in Bury St Edmunds, and the NHS Supply Chain building nearby.

Liz Fox, of Robinson Close, started off the discussion about the issue on social media website Streetlife.com, saying: “They are waking me up at 3am most days, does anyone know why they have appeared and what can be done?”

A borough council spokeswoman said they had spent £12,000 on the problem over the last three years, with some 700 eggs removed during six visits.

She said: “We know that the number of breeding pairs of gulls on the roof of our Olding Road depot, and the NHS Supply Chain building, have been on the increase over the last four years or so and we have been carrying out work to try to ease the problem.

“We do not have any food waste out in the open. We have used bird scarers, cleared debris from the roof, and employed a bird of prey and handler to try to deter the gulls from the site.”

She added: “It is illegal to cull live gulls but clearance of nests and eggs can be carried out by specialists.”

But Will Dale, who lives in Bury’s Northgate Avenue and joined in with the discussion on Streetlife, told this newspaper he did not think the borough council was doing enough to tackle the problem.

He said: “Clearly there is something that is attracting these birds to this particular location. The council have been aware [of the problem] for a number of years now and I don’t think what they are doing has been effective.”

Councillor Terry Clements, borough council cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, said: “The experts believe that by regularly clearing eggs, the birds will be put off using the site as they will think it is a bad breeding ground.

“We have made sure there is absolutely no food source on our site, although obviously they are flying to somewhere off site to get their food. It is food litter which attracts birds, so we would ask people to take their rubbish home or put it in a bin.

“We will continue with our efforts to deter the gulls, but unfortunately there is no quick fix.”

A spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the increasing number of gulls seen in urban areas disguised a significant decline in overall UK populations over the past 25 years.

“The RSPB believe that gull problems in an urban environment are best tackled by managing the availability of food and nest sites because, if the features that attract gulls remain, any ‘vacancies’ created by controlling existing gulls will simply be filled by other gulls moving in.”

The Olding Road depot houses the council’s vehicle fleet, including waste collection vehicles.

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