Anti-gull tsars are set to hit the city’s streets fining people who feed the ‘rats on wings’.
Desperate bids to tackle a burgeoning gull population will now resort to penalties of £75 for anyone caught feeding the birds.
City councillor Susan Witts (LD, Elmbridge) said: “The numbers of gulls are increasing and we can’t seem to do anything to contain them.”
Gull expert Julie Wight, environmental health manager, said the biggest deterrent against gulls would be to restrict their food supply on the city’s streets.
She said: “Any food that a gull can get is a problem.”
A new city centre officer will be tasked with issuing penalties to gull-feeders and new posters saying ‘do not feed the birds’ will go up around the city. The council says it will try to educate people first before fining them.
Councillor Saj Patel, cabinet member for environment, said: “They will have the power to issue fines and they will enforce it.
“It is a problem that needs to be addressed through education. Simply carrying out egg treatments is not enough. The gulls will go wherever there is food so we need to stop their food supply.
“People are feeding the gulls and that is what is attracting them.”
Other councillors at a scrutiny meeting on Monday called for the gulls to be shot. Councillor Gordon Taylor (C, Abbey) said: “We should be lobbying to get a cull put in place.”
Using lasers to scare off the gulls has been ruled out because of health and safety fears. Councillor Janet Lugg, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, said: “The last thing we want is a load of blind seagulls flapping around.”
Council bosses said they will look into experimenting with using birds of prey such as falcons in the Docks to ward off the gulls.
Birds of prey are already keeping gulls at bay down at the tip in Hempsted.
Councillor Andrew Gravells (C, Abbey) said: “It is us versus the gulls and the gulls are winning hands down. That’s not a situation I like. These are nothing more than rats on wings.
“You can plaster the city with posters but until people realise that feeding them is wrong you are only scoring a home goal.
“The gulls are terrified at the very sight of a falcon. They make them uncomfortable. This is an option that we should consider.”