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‘They’re a damn nuisance’ - market traders on growing gull problem

PUBLISHED: 12:06 20 July 2018

Norma Docwra said the problem is getting a lot worse                         Picture: Jacob Massey

Norma Docwra said the problem is getting a lot worse Picture: Jacob Massey

Archant

Following a season of favourable weather, gull numbers are higher than usual, as are gull attacks - and traders in Great Yarmouth’s market place have noticed.

Melanie Wilson, who runs Barrie's Tea Stall, said every roll she serves comes with a gull warning                                   Picture: Jacob MasseyMelanie Wilson, who runs Barrie's Tea Stall, said every roll she serves comes with a gull warning Picture: Jacob Massey

It is thought that the increased numbers has resulted in increased competition for food, making gulls more aggressive, while higher numbers of fledglings may also contribute to protective and aggressive behaviour from birds.

The Great Yarmouth Borough Council has now begun a trial hawk walk in hope of dispersing the gulls from the market place and traders say that action needs to be taken amid the worsening problem.

Melanie Wilson, who has been running Barrie’s Tea Stall for 13 years, said she used to compensate people who had their food stolen but it became too costly.

She said: “Every roll I put out comes with a seagull warning now. We see about five or six muggings a day, and I call it a mugging because that’s what it is.

The council have put sings on bins in the hope of encouraging people to dispose of their waste                 Picture: Jacob MasseyThe council have put sings on bins in the hope of encouraging people to dispose of their waste Picture: Jacob Massey

“They’re getting more and more cocky and much more aggressive. They come back again and again after being shooed.

“They didn’t used to come under here (the roofed area of the market) but now they come right under. We have water pistols out the back to scare them off.

“You only have to walk through the market as well to see how dirty it is.

“I tried to encourage someone not to feed them the other day and she spat at us.

“Last Thursday a woman got a big cut on her face that could even scar, and yesterday (Tuesday) one went for a baby.

“They need a cull next time they nest. I am an animal lover but there are way too many of them. If it was a dog attacking people like this something would be done, so I don’t see why birds should be any different.”

Norma Docwra, who has run Docwra’s Chip Stall on the Market Place for 15 years, said people ignore the signs distributed by the borough council as part of their Feed the Bin, Not the Birds campaign.

She said: “I saw a woman the other week throwing chips for them and then she got angry when they attacked her children.

“They’re a damn nuisance. It gets pure white out there, like it has been snowing.

“Another stall put a plastic owl on their roof and it worked to begin with, but now they have gotten used to it.

“Something has got to be done because it really has gotten worse. People say they won’t come here to eat now because it is so bad, I certainly don’t eat out there.”

Another market trader said it was not their job to challenge people.

He said: “It is only a matter of time before a child gets badly hurt. Money needs to be spent to make it safe here because people are scared.

“They work in pairs, with one swooping and distracting and the other one knocking the food out of their hands.

“They particularly love sausage and cheese.

“It is really bad, the birds are landing on people’s heads.

“We’ve got someone doing work experience who has lost two of their lunches this week.”

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