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Council will not use resident group’s poster to deter feeding of seagulls

SWANSEA Council won’t be promoting a poster telling people not to feed seagulls, which was drawn up by a residents’ group fed up with the birds’ noisy and aggressive behaviour.

Mayals Friends and Residents Group’s document gives 10 reasons not to feed seagulls, and includes a line that Swansea was ranked the sixth most rat-infested area in Britain in 2017.

A member of the group told a council scrutiny panel last October that a dog in Mayals had had its cheek sliced open by a gull, that a disabled resident had been targeted in his garden, while another had a “near nervous breakdown” due to a lack of sleep.

It was alleged that a couple living in the area were regularly putting food out on the ground. A council officer investigated and said the couple put out a bowl of bread during the day for birds, and that he didn’t consider this to be unreasonable or excessive.

The residents’ group wanted the council to launch a city-wide seagull education programme and consider stronger enforcement action, among other measures.

But cabinet member for environment and infrastructure management, Cllr Mark Thomas, has replied to the scrutiny panel to say the authority’s response “must be proportionate”.

He said he understood concerns about individuals’ behaviour but did not feel the council could support the poster, describing the rat-infestation statistic as misleading.

He said: “The high level of calls in Swansea is linked to the fact that the council, in recognition of the potential public health risk, carries out domestic rat visits for free whereas as other authorities charge for the visit; charging for visits can lead to a 50% reduction in complaints received.”

Cllr Thomas said a new web page linked to the council’s pest control page would be created, providing information about feeding birds in general, and that the authority already had “feed the bins, not the birds” signs at litter hotspots.

All species of gull are protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Licenses can be sought to kill urban gulls only as a last resort, where a significant risk to public health or safety has been identified.

Cllr Thomas said the council would continue to investigate complaints.

His letter said: “I can assure you appropriate enforcement action will be taken where circumstances warrant formal intervention.”

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