Gull debate triggered by Lowestoft MP

They have become a very common sight in seaside towns such as Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth as they brazenly snatch dropped food scraps, such as chips, from people.

And this afternoon gulls were the centre of debate as a meeting was held about the problems the birds cause for residents of coastal towns.

The debate, called seagulls in coastal towns, in Westminster Hall was called for and led by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who has been involved in a gull problem affecting parts of Lowestoft.

MPs heard how gulls dive bombed people in the town, created a mess by rooting through bins and made a raucous noise - leading to people being forced to close their windows to escape their loud calls.

And the debate also heard how 'urban' gulls are now becoming a national problem by moving inland, including Beccles, and that is was now so serious the animals were described in the debate as 'birds of mass destruction'.

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Mr Aldous told the private members debate how gulls had badly affected and 'disrupted' the lives of people in Lowestoft, especially in Waveney Drive and the seafront.

He said because of gull mess one family had stopped holding annual barbecues and another were regularly dive bombed at their seafront home, a situation Mr Aldous described as 'extremely alarming'.

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Mr Aldous also said workmen installing a television aerial had to stop after they were targeted by the birds.

Other problems included gulls ripping open bin bags and spreading their contents in a search for food and causing a noise nuisance with their 'prolonged, piercing and loud laughing call'.

Mr Aldous said the gull problem had got worse in the last five to six years and said there were several main reasons - declining fish stocks, the availability of discarded fast food and loss of natural habitat.

The Waveney MP said that although research was needed on to why the gull problem was worse that some northern European countries he suggested several measures to prevent the birds creating a problem in Lowestoft and nation wide.

He proposed regular litter picking, gull proof bins and buildings, stopping people feeding gulls and giving the owners of large sites with a 'significant' gull problem a licence to control them. And as he spelled out his main measures Mr Aldous ruled out culling gulls.

He said: 'There is no silver bullet, there is need for more research.

'The whole scale culling of gulls is not an option and I don't advocate it.'

Earlier in the year Mr Aldous had signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons about the problem of urban gulls in at least 150 constituencies and pledged to find a humane solution to the problem. Today's debate heard how gull are a problem as far inland as Birmingham, Bath and Gloucester.

The small group of MPs heard how herring and black headed gulls were threatened and are on a red danger list.

It is legal to cull gulls but the government admitted research was needed into ways to control them.

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