Those settling down to enjoy their fish and chips by the seaside will be used to having to contend with the immediate arrival of swooping seagulls intent on picking up a morsel or two.
For many the gulls are as synonymous with the seaside as deck chairs and buckets and spades but they divide opinion with others concerned the local population in Scarborough is becoming too large and they are a pest. Now councillors are considering a dramatic relocation proposal.
Next week members of Scarborough District Council will meet to decide whether to back the recommendations of a task group set up to look at the issue and consider whether moves should be used to encourage the seaside town’s urban nesting kittiwakes to relocate back to the Castle Headland.
Coun Godfrey Allanson, chairman of the scrutiny task group said: “There is a concern, as evidenced by comments by some hotel guests on Trip Advisor that kittiwakes’ noise and guano is damaging the image of Scarborough and deterring visitors from returning on holiday.”
However he says herring gulls pose more of a nuisance than kittiwakes and said they have developed a liking for food traditionally consumed by humans and they are willing to both scavenge and to ‘mug’ people to obtain it.
“There seems to be a consensus that in recent years herring gulls are getting bolder and more brazen in their attempts to snatch food,” Coun Allanson added.
A report to councillors raises fears that somebody could be injured as the gulls become more brazen in their scavenging.
A number of recommendations will be discussed by members of the council’s environment and scrutiny committee on Monday to tackle the issue in Scarborough and other resorts in the district including an education campaign to try to get people to stop feeding the gulls which could see warnings put on fish and chip wrappers and litter bins made gull proof.
John Senior, chairman of the South Bay Traders Association, said: “It’s the numbers. We are overwhelmed in some areas by them.
“They can be quite aggressive, particularly during the nesting season.”
The task force is recommending that members ask officers to consider displacing Scarborough’s urban nesting kittiwakes back to Castle Headland in conjunction with Natural England and the RSPB. This would be done by placing fine netting and other deterrents on the buildings in Scarborough where they are nesting designed to stop them being able to land.
The report prepared for councillors says a similar scheme on the River Tyne prevented continued nesting by kittiwakes on a building at North Shields.
Birds frequently tried and failed to land on the ledges but eventually moved to a sea cliff site to join an existing colony about two miles away.
Scarborough Council also covers the neighbouring resorts of Filey and Whitby.