Sutton and Devonport MP calls for new seagull-proof buildings

When is the last time you ate a packet of crisps on Lemon Quay without being attacked?

Seagulls – a protected species – are increasingly out of control.

The Mayor of Truro, Rob Nolan, has called for a fine to be imposed on anybody who feeds seagulls. This was proposed after many gull problems: one supermarket was evacuated after one of the troublesome birds flew in.

Seagulls are also putting off tourists from visiting. The mayor said: “Just at the moment we’ve got a lot and we’re really struggling to cope; you couldn’t eat a packet of crisps on Lemon Quay without being attacked.”

Oliver Colvile, MP for the Plymouth area, has spoken of a new idea to discourage seagulls from clustering in public places. This was brought to parliament’s attention after Mr Colvile had been told by a friend who had his chips stolen and was attacked by a seagull.

MPs from all across the UK and various political parties took part in the “cordial and friendly debate”, even though the subject is a serious one. “It was really great to see Parliament work together on this issue,” said Mr Colvile.

He also told us that he believes that the best way to stop seagulls nesting on buildings was to apply fencing on the top and sides. This would mean that the number of urban gulls would decrease, causing there to be a lower number of aggressive seagulls. Nevertheless, seagulls do need somewhere to perch, so our buildings are very important to them, and this is why there are a number of nests on top of buildings, including, according to Mr Colvile, on top of the Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport constituency building.

Seagull-proof buildings were not the only idea to deter seagulls. Steve Double, the MP for St Austell and Newquay, believes that a cull of the gulls was required, after the deaths of a dog in Newquay and a tortoise, and even human injuries.

However, Mr Colvile does not believe in this drastic measure, and said: “I feel that we should be taking preventative measures towards seagulls as opposed to killing wildlife and birds.”

Furthermore, Mr Double’s idea may not be very applicable, because seagulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which states that no gull can be injured or their nests damaged. This may make Mr Colvile’s idea more likely to be put into action.

On the other hand, this measure will not be particularly useful unless the public and local councils do their bit too.  Oliver Colvile would like to see more litter bins in coastal towns and cities, and also more signs around our communities (predominantly in areas where there are lots of these birds). He also would like to encourage teaching about littering, and said: “I also think that people need more education as to what happens to our planet when we throw our rubbish onto the ground and do not dispose of it properly. I hope that these measures would help decrease the amount of litter and therefore take away a main food source from the seagulls.”

Reported by Sophie Johns 

BBC School Report