Calls for seagull-proof buildings in MPs’ debate

A seagull stole Oliver Colvile MP's friends chips, reportedly sparking the debate in Parliament
A seagull stole Oliver Colvile MP's friends chips, reportedly sparking the debate in Parliament

MPs discussed seagulls stealing people’s chips and how to tackle the ‘flying rats’ problem in Parliament yesterday (Tuesday, February 7) – with suggestions for gull-proof buildings and ‘contraception’.

Conservative MP Oliver Colvile led the debate in the House of Commons after a constituent had his food stolen by an ‘overly-aggressive’ seagull but insisted his main concern was safety.

Concerns over gulls

Concerns over gulls

Gulls are a common sight in seafront towns across the county and the issue of what to do with the protected scavengers is a divisive one.

Mr Colvile, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, suggested new buildings should be seagull-proof, with spikes to discourage nesting or nets.

“I hope that the Minister will listen to not only my concerns, but those of many of my constituents and many other Members of Parliament and their constituents,” he said.

“This is an important matter, and I hope that the Government will act before someone is really hurt yet again by an aggressive seagull.”

Culling the birds was discussed but the MPs agreed it would be hard to achieve due to herring gulls being a protected species, despite a marginal support for it in a YouGov poll.

“Although there is marginal support for culling gulls, I support the RSPB’s position—and, it seems, that of the majority of honourable members in the debate—that that should not be the immediate way forward,” Sue Hayman MP said.

“We should instead look at non-harmful deterrents as a priority.”

Alternatives proposed by the MPs included swapping the seagull’s eggs for fake ones, calling on council’s to provide gull-proof refuge sacks, and educating people not to feed them.

Mr Colville insisted his involvement was not a ‘vendetta’ after his colleague chips were taken, but ‘an opportunity to ensure that shoppers, residents and tourists feel safe when they are outdoors’.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said a pensioner was hospitalised in his constituency by a gull and the birds are a ‘real public safety risk’.

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said the gulls are seen as nothing more than ‘flying rats’ that scavenge from bins and steal food in Cornwall.

As well as stealing food, seagulls have also been blamed for killing a dog and a tortoise, with fears the summer could see ‘gull wars’ on the high streets.

What do you think should be done about the seagulls? Do you like them or see them as a menace? Comment below or email us.

To read the full debate click here, or watch it here.

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