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Ross blasts government response to gull menace problems

By Alan Beresford

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MORAY MP Douglas Ross has expressed "disappointment" that the Scottish Government have no plans to support efforts to combat the gull menace.

Moray MP and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross. Picture: James Mackenzie
Moray MP and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross. Picture: James Mackenzie

Over the summer Mr Ross was inundated with calls and emails from constituents and businesses regarding the ongoing nuisance and dangers caused by gulls in Moray. He contacted both Moray Council and the Scottish Government on this issue, seeking support to tackle this problem and he also contacted other local authorities nationwide to establish if there were any areas adopting best practice in dealing with this matter.

He said: “Having been inundated this summer again by calls and emails from local residents and businesses to do something to tackle the ongoing gull menace, I wrote in July to Moray Council and the Scottish Government asking for more action to be taken in dealing with this issue and also seeking support to address the problem.

"In particular I was aware of an initiative in an English coastal town where they introduced a bye-law making it an offence to feed gulls.

“Moray Council responded advising me of the pilot schemes they have up and running in which trained pest controllers, under licence, remove nests and eggs from buildings. They also advised that they were undertaking further work to see what else could be done, but they had no plans to introduce any bye-law to make it an offence to feed gulls.

“Disappointingly, the Scottish Government did not respond until now and advised that they have no plans to take further action or provide further support, citing the fact that the matter is one for local authorities to address or where the nests are on private property, the property owner.

“I think the majority of people here in Moray agree these gulls are a menace and cause annoyance, mess and are also dangerous. This is a continuing problem, which needs to be tackled head on, at a national level and in partnership with others. Just washing your hands of the problem and pushing the responsibility onto others, as the Scottish Government seem to be doing, is not the answer.”

Councillor Tim Eagle. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Councillor Tim Eagle. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Buckie Conservative councillor and leader of the Tory group on Moray Council, Tim Eagle, said it was another example of local communities being "ignored" by the Scottish Government.

“I am really disappointed to hear that the Scottish Government are not interested in working with communities on what is a very significant issue," he continued.

"This is not a few gulls causing a bit of a mess but an endemic issue across multiple communities causing significant problems. Yet again the Scottish Government have washed their hands of a genuine issue affecting the north of Scotland where there was a clear opportunity for communities and local and national government coming together to find solutions.

"Sadly, it echoes so many other cases where local government and local people are ignored by the SNP as we seek to address key community concerns.

"I thank all those who have contacted me about this issue across Moray and please be reassured that I will continue to fight for the fullest range of options to be provided by Moray Council before next year."

However, Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP, who recently held a well-attended virtual meeting on the subject of the gull menace, said that plans were already in motion to tackle the problem short and long term as a direct result of the event. The meeting brought together representation from both Moray and Aberdeenshire councils, pest control specialists and ornithology experts as well as members of the public.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam.

She said: “Already, we’ve seen positive work being undertaken off the back of the public meeting I chaired to address the problem.

"That’s why I was delighted that my statement, which included a stream of action points to begin work to tackle the problem, was read out at Infrastructure Services Committee at Aberdeenshire Council, and I welcome the fact that [Protective Services Department service manager] Gordon Buchanan’s recommendations to the committee were accepted after he participated as a panellist in the public meeting on the gull issue.

"These recommendations have been agreed with the addition that the local authority review will include some form of funding package for work to be undertaken by the council on this.

“It’s my intention that this will be the beginning of collaborative working across local authorities, from both Moray and Aberdeenshire Councils, and other relevant organisations so that we can make a collective effort to take safe and humane measures to tackle the problem.

“I know there is no single measure that will have much of an impact to address the effect gulls are having on the wellbeing and safety of people living on the coast. It’s going to be a tough task but I will do everything I can within my remit so that we can get a positive outcome from this.

“I know that realistically this will be challenging and it will take years to get under control, but that’s exactly why it’s important we start working together now because there are measures local authorities can take in both the short and long term on this. I was only elected into this position a few months ago but I am now in a position where I may be able to enact positive change. Someone needs to be proactive and do something about this I’m willing to try my best to do exactly that.”

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