Feathers fly as city set to deny gull service

Mairianna Clyde is disappointed at the recommendations
Mairianna Clyde is disappointed at the recommendations
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HOPES of finally solving the problem of gulls besieging an Edinburgh community look set to be dashed.

The city council considered introducing a free service to remove nests and eggs after Merchiston Community Council collected hundreds of signatures on a petition.

Campaigners said the birds were a health hazard, a noise nuisance, and had been known to attack people during their territorial breeding season.

But councillors have been recommended to reject the idea, despite the success of a similar scheme in Dumfries.

A report to the city’s transport, infrastructure and environment committee, which meets on Tuesday, examined a proposal for a pilot scheme which would see two pest control officers, helped by local volunteers, work over four days between May to September to remove nests and eggs from roofs in seven streets.

It estimated that running the scheme for five years would cost £125,000.

It also looked at the possibility of a free city-wide removal service, which it said would cost at least £224,000 a year.

Both proposals are recommended for refusal, with officers saying there was no budget to do the work free of charge. At present, gull nests and eggs can be removed by the council’s pest control service, but users have to pay for the service.

Mairianna Clyde, chairwoman of Merchiston Community Council, said: “We’re very disappointed. It confirms your worst fears really, that they just will not do anything about it.

“What’s particularly disappointing is that they produced a new gull leaflet this year and they recommended that people don’t do anything about it themselves. They’ve left you between a rock and a hard place. It is possible to take action against gulls, you can keep cleaning the nests and eggs, but they’re not going to do it or help people do it themselves.”

Dr Clyde will make a deputation on the matter to the committee on Tuesday.

She said the birds were making life a misery for residents of the area. “The gulls are breeding out of control. They form mass colonies and they’re very, very noisy. They spread a number of pathogens, you have them all along Bruntsfield Place where there are all these food outlets, which is not a good idea. They can be extremely aggressive and very territorial and they also damage roofs.”

Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart Councillor, Gordon Buchan, added: “I’m disappointed that they’re not going to at least try it. The local community is keen for the council to do something and I would think that a trial shows willing to listen to people, to take seriously their concerns about something which is a really antisocial issue.”