My ‘Picture of the Day’ turned out to be ironically apt today with our Bath MP, Wera Hobhouse, not happy with the speed at which discussions over the city’s gull issue are going.
After talks between Wera, the Environment Minister and Natural England, she says some progress has been made but wants things to go further.
This year, a new licensing regime managed by Natural England on behalf of the Government has seen fewer gull nests removed than normal. This is compared to previous cases under past ‘general licence’ arrangements. This has left residents concerned at an increase in gull-related incidents in Bath where locals have been bothered by noise and gull fouling.
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse has raised residents’ views with the Environment Minister and Natural England. Wera is working with the organisation who have been carrying out a pilot for new working arrangements with Bath and North East Somerset Council, thanks to which some progress is being made.
This positive dialogue will see Natural England making changes to arrangements this year that allow additional factors such as sleep deprivation and aggressive behaviour to vulnerable people to be factored in and no longer require pre-approval.
Natural England will also take into account any additional local evidence of growing gull populations and is working on sharing best practice and guidelines for pest controllers and local authorities across the country.
Wera will continue to bring interested parties together to involve all concerned in sharing an understanding of the public health and safety risks of the gull population and developing best practice guidance for next year.
Commenting on the situation Bath MP Wera Hobhouse said:
“Residents in Bath have been plagued by gulls. License changes this year mean that many are concerned that the problem will only get worse. I have raised the issue with the Environment Minister and progress has been made thanks to consistent and constructive dialogue with Natural England with whom I have met to discuss the concerns of constituents affected by gulls.
“I have asked Natural England and other local partners to continue to work together in the new year so we can make progress on the issues relating to gulls in Bath and in other surrounding areas where the new licensing regime has also been trialed.
“I’m pleased to see progress as a result of collegiate and constructive working but I believe we can go further. I will continue voicing the concerns of Bath residents.”
Cllr Tim Ball has voiced concerns about the new licensing system which compromises public health and safety by ruling out many of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s usual gull control treatments. Cllr Ball said:
“The changes mean this year we’ve only been able to intervene on a very small percentage of cases. The bar is set too high and we need to be allowed to take more action. I’m pleased to see some movement on this but I fear that the delay from Natural England means next year will be a loud one for residents in affected areas.”