May 2009 West End Community Council Update

I have today launched my May 2009 update to West End Community Council.

Issues covered include :

 
• Riverside Drive – Homebase site

• Wheelie Bins

• Wimberley

 • Bollards at Taylor’s Lane

 • Seagulls

 • Hotel planning application

 • Proposed Riverside Nature Park

 • HMO Policy

 • Richmond Terrace

 The Community Council meets next Tuesday (12th May) at 7pm in Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall.

 You can download the Community Council Update by going to :  http://dundee.prai.co.uk/resources/sites/82.165.40.25-4354cb46e84541.81564487/West%20End%20Ward%20-%20Various%20Resources%20Directory/West%20End%20Community%20Council%20Updates/West+End+Community+Council+Update+-+May+2009.pdf 

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Seagulls problem : Task Force to be welcomed but more needs done

If you click here : http://www.dundeewestend.com/2008/05/seagulls-nuisance.html, you can read the blog story I wrote back in May about residents’ concerns regarding seagulls – particularly in the areas of tall tenements south of the Perth Road shopping area. Seagulls appear to thrive on litter/rubbish and their aggressive behaviour towards other birds, pets and even people is a real and increasing problem in our cities.

 

Over the spring and summer months, numerous West End residents have contacted me about the seagulls problem and I know that there are other parts of the City – and indeed across Scotland – where the “urban seagull” is becoming a more and more frequent sight. The breeding season is now coming to an end, but, as one resident put it in an e-mail to me last month:

 

“Now that the Seagull breeding season is nearly over, the residents in this area will have the chance to recover from the truly dreadful experience of constant noise, dirt and threat from these urban gulls. Maybe even get to sleep at night.”

 

It is an increasing problem, and I met with residents and an officer from the City Council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards Department on 6th August to discuss measures to discourage seagull colonies from nesting on the top of local tenements. I am pleased that Dundee City Council has taken a proactive approach in assisting residents with tackling the seagull menace.

 

I was advised by the City Council officer that, on 24th June, a nationwide meeting was held in Dumfries to discuss seagull problems in urban areas. This was a positive move, giving residents, business operators, environmentalists and the Environment Minister a chance to meet and exchange views on how to tackle the problem of seagulls in Scotland’s coastal towns and cities.

 

I was anxious to learn what actual action the Environment Minister Mike Russell was going to take following the June Seagull Summit. Therefore, earlier this month, I asked Alison McInnes, MSP for North East Scotland, to question the Environment Minister on the matter, and she submitted the following written questions :

 

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to address the growing problems caused by seagulls in urban areas.

 

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it is planning changes to legislation in order to assist local authorities in tackling the problems caused by seagulls.

 

To ask the Scottish Executive what additional funding it will give to local authorities in order to assist them in tackling the problems caused by seagulls.

 

Yesterday, Mike Russell, revisiting Dumfries, announced a task force to start making plans to tackle the seagull problem at the start of the next breeding season in Spring 2009. He said he would be “tough on seagulls and tough on the causes of seagulls.”

 

For more information, see the Reuters report yesterday on this matter at : http://uk.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUKLM66869920080822

 

The bottom line, in my view, is that Scottish Government has to tackle the inadequate legislative situation and, fundamentally, has to properly fund efforts by local authorities to assist residents with the problems seagulls cause. The Environment Secretary’s “Task Force” announcement is to be welcomed but, fundamentally, residents in the West End and in other urban centres in Scotland need real assistance and this requires a review of legislation and proper targeted funding from Scottish Government to local authorities to help them properly tackle the issue.

Seagulls nuisance

I’ve obtained the assistance of City Council Environmental Health Officers following complaints from residents about seagulls noise in the early hours.

I contacted the Head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards about the problem, following constituents being kept off their sleep by the noise of gulls nesting on tenement buildings in parts of the West End, particularly on some of the tall tenements south of the Perth Road shopping area.

The problem of nesting on tenement roofs was summed up neatly by one resident who said,

“Never mind the swooping attacks once the chicks have hatched, my main problem is primarily one of noise in the wee hours of the morning. They typically start about 2am or so and go on until 6 or 7 am.”

I have been councillor for the area for seven years and each year the number of complaints about this problem in the area has increased – particularly in the past couple of years. Residents are sure that the gull population has increased as they have been displaced from their old sites such as the docks area and various some previously decaying industrial sites which have been since redeveloped.

The Head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards has very promptly responded with advice and offering to speak with those residents who have raised concerns.

In the City Council response, it is accepted that the “ongoing impact of gulls” is partly due to being displaced through derelict properties being modernised/replaced and the Council’s efforts to reduce readily available food sources in the city centre area, and this has exacerbated the problem in the West End but there may be other contributory factors.

I’m pleased that the City Council recognised the problem and is willing to assist residents with the issue.