COUNCILLORS have said that more action must be taken to tackle “increasing” problems caused by seagulls in Lyme Regis, with some calling for a cull of the protected birds.
Seagulls attacking children was included on the council’s regular list of complaints from members of the public, received at this week’s Town Management & Highways Committee.
Councillor Belinda Bawden said she had recently been attacked by a gull in Church Street and said the problem was getting “significantly worse”.
“I have heard people saying they won’t come to Lyme Regis again because of the seagulls,” she added.
Committee chairman John Broom said there was only one way to solve the problem – to “shoot them”.
Councillor Kelsey Ellis agreed that the problem had worsened and suggested that the council consider installing high-frequency noise deterrents, which some restaurants had already started using.
Councillor Jeff Scowen said the council should reconsider using birds of prey to scare the gulls. The council used an eagle and hawk on a trial basis over Easter but agreed not to continue with the initiative because of its high cost.
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE, said: “We would have to hire them everyday and the cost would be huge, because as soon as they leave the gulls come back.
“Lyme is not special, St Ives has an even worse problem than we’ve got. We’re not alone in this one, there’s no quick answer and it comes with being a place of takeaway food. That beach is like an open restaurant to a seagull.”
Councillor Bawden suggested that warnings about gulls should be printed on takeaway packaging, and Councillor Kelsey Ellis agreed the solution was more about educating the public not to feed the birds.
Councillor Scowen replied: “People feeding them is not a major issue. The problem is children at the seaside on a sunny day walking with their ice cream. What do you do to stop that happening? You can’t.
“We should pay the money for the hawks on high days and holidays. Sooner or later we’re going to have a serious injury with a young child, I pray that we don’t but we need to be proactive.
“We are a relatively well-off council, so it costs us a few tens of thousands of pounds, we need to think about safety and this is the only way we can do it.”
Councillor Larcombe commented: “We should talk to other seaside resorts and there should be some kind of lobbying of government to see if we can cull gulls in seaside areas. I’m sorry, that’s the only way unless you restrict the amount of takeaway outlets and al freso dining.”
It was agreed to give further consideration to the problems caused by seagulls at a future meeting.