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Osprey to be unleashed on noisy gulls

PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:34 01 August 2010

A LARGER bird of prey is to be unleashed on the infamous gulls of Beccles as the landowners have swooped in to take control.

Earlier this year Beccles Town Council hired a Harris Hawk to be flown regularly in an effort to scare away a growing colony of noisy gulls tormenting the residents of Fair Close and Gosford Road.

A LARGER bird of prey is to be unleashed on the infamous gulls of Beccles as the landowners have swooped in to take control.

Earlier this year Beccles Town Council hired a Harris Hawk to be flown regularly in an effort to scare away a growing colony of noisy gulls tormenting the residents of Fair Close and Gosford Road.

However Anglia Co-Op, which owns the land, has now stepped in to try and solve the problem once and for all.

The company has agreed to take responsibility for the problem, and on Monday will kick-off an intensive flying regime with an Osprey- which will hopefully more effective.

It has also completed work to clear rubble and weeds from the site in an attempt to stop the birds nesting.

There was conflict when residents decided to “string up” the site to prevent the birds from landing. The town council was forced to take it all down because the company hired to fly the Harris Hawk were afraid it would get tangled up.

John Chillcott, chief executive of Anglia Co-Op, said: “I was supportive of both council and residents but my emphasis to both groups was they must agree amongst themselves. Clearly the council and the residents are in disharmony about who should be doing what so we will invest the money to have direct control.”

He said that he believed a larger bird flying at a higher level would be more effective than the Harris Hawk, which was flying at a relatively low level. The bird will be flown daily for three or four hours for a month, as apposed to the Harris Hawk which was contracted to be flown three times a week.

He added that work was scheduled to finish yesterday to tidy up the site in order to stop the birds nesting. He said that Anglia Co-Op had hired an independent pest control company to check there were no nests there already, so that the company was not in breach of any environmental laws protecting the birds.

The Harris Hawk will now no longer be flown, however the council are still contracted for six months to the company that was flying the bird. It has written a letter to see if it can be relieved of paying for the remaining half a year.

Although the contract was for £4,000 for the year, the council was paying quarterly, and because Anglia Co-Op had agreed to foot the bill for the first two quarters the council will only have to pay for half a year at most.

Berenice Broom, Beccles town clerk, said that she was glad to see Anglia Co-Op take over. “In some respects it made more sense,” she said. “They're on site, they're going to know what's best. The council answered residents' concerns and we were trying to do our best to help them.”

Phillip Page, a resident of the Fair Close and Gosford Road area, led a group of neighbours who spent hours stringing up the site with bailing twine and red and white tape at close intervals to prevent the gulls from landing and nesting.

It was ultimately taken down by the town council, as the contractor flying the Harris Hawk was worried the bird would get tangled up.

Mr Page said that he remained sceptical of success. “It's a case of watch this space,” he said. “It's a now fix rather than a long-term fix. At the moment they're not all back, but the numbers are increasing and there are 100 there now.”

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