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Hopes that gull problem has flown

PUBLISHED: 10:25 16 June 2010 | UPDATED: 09:48 01 August 2010

TOWN centre residents in Beccles are looking forward to a peaceful summer after almost ridding themselves of a colony of nuisance gulls.

Resident Phillip Page believes he has finally found the winning strategy after a year of trying to empty a derelict factory site of nesting gulls, whose noise and mess were troubling people living in Gosford Road and Fair Close.

TOWN centre residents in Beccles are looking forward to a peaceful summer after almost ridding themselves of a colony of nuisance gulls.

Resident Phillip Page believes he has finally found the winning strategy after a year of trying to empty a derelict factory site of nesting gulls, whose noise and mess were troubling people living in Gosford Road and Fair Close.

He said he has been granted a licence by Natural England that allows him to destroy nests and eggs on the site where the Fibrenyle factory used to stand, and where the colony was growing year by year.

Now daily walks on the site enable him to keep on top of the problem in a bid to keep the birds at bay.

“We are having great success,” he said. “There are one or two still but they don't stay. We can kill the birds if necessary but there isn't a lot of point, as if you destroy the nests and there's no young to come back next year then they won't come back. We hope we will have a smaller problem next year.”

He said the licence had been granted on health and safety grounds, adding: “We don't want the mess and we don't want the noise.

“It's a lot better now, it's very quiet. We can safely say we will have a much quieter summer than last year. We can sit out in our gardens now and not hear squawking birds.”

Mr Page said that if necessary he will apply for a new licence when the current one expires in December to ensure the problem does not return.

Last August Mr Page and his neighbours called for action and likened daily life to a scene from the 1963 Hitchcock thriller The Birds.

Beccles Town Council contracted a specialist firm to bring in a predatory bird to make flights over the site to scare off the gulls at the cost of £1,000 per quarter.

But the method struck a problem when the company refused to fly the bird in case it became entangled in the miles of string that residents had used to create a web to stop the gulls from landing. Although the string was taken down, questions were raised over the effectiveness of the bird, leading landowner Anglia Co-Op to organise a contract for a peregrine falcon to take over.

Mr Page said he believed the birds of prey had a limited effect, adding that only a few gulls remained since he had been making use of the licence. “This is the last stand,” he said. “It isn't as though we haven't tried other methods.”

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