Council bosses are getting in a flap about litter that attracts nuisance seagulls in Hartlepool.
Officials are to launch a new high-profile campaign to clamp down on the year-round problem of people feeding gulls or leaving rubbish at the town’s popular visitor spots.
New, larger signs urging people not to feed the seagulls and dump rubbish will be displayed by Hartlepool Borough Council at Seaton Carew, the Headland and around Hartlepool Marina.
A council report said: “Fear of ‘attack’ by seagulls combined with the unattractive image of litter and bird-dropping-strewn outdoor eating areas has the potential to seriously impact on the promotion of Hartlepool as a family visitor destination.”
The report said some people see feeding seagulls as an acceptable alternative to putting their rubbish in bins.
It added: “Food litter... is scavenged by seagulls and other vermin and the detritus left behind is unsightly and potentially off-putting to visitors to the sea front.
“This includes items like chip trays, sandwich wrappers, etc, as well as bird droppings.
“Birds have also been known to pull rubbish out of bins to get at the food inside.”
The council says although ‘muggings’ where seagulls swoop on unsuspecting diners and steal the food from their hands does not appear to be as much of a problem in Hartlepool as in other coastal resorts, large groups of sea birds congregating waiting for food is intimidating.
The new campaign was supported by the council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee.
As well as new signs, large stickers will also be produced and placed on bins in the awareness raising campaign, and a leaflet aimed at businesses and residents will be printed.
Committee chair Councillor Marjorie James said: “I think this is very relevant in Hartlepool.
“It has taken a long time to get to this point and I’m really pleased the committee are looking at this quite seriously.
“I think we need to get this (leaflet) printed and out into the public domain as soon as possible.”
Councillor Brenda Loynes suggested the leaflets also be put in doctors surgeries.
A launch event is planned in the May half term break followed by a series of activities to drive the message home through the summer.
Residents and businesses will be encouraged to log incidents in an online survey.
Hartlepool resident John Lynch, who was at the meeting, said: “I call seagulls flying rats. They’re pests.
“Anything you can do to get rid of them is welcome.”