In a flap over fines for feeding birds

John Buller, 79, feeding the seagulls on Blackpool Promenade
John Buller, 79, feeding the seagulls on Blackpool Promenade
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Do you enjoy tossing a chip to the seagulls as you walk along the seafront?

Do so at your own risk at beaches in Devon - as getting caught could leave you with a hefty fine.

Seasiders in Devon can now be charged £80 for feeding seagulls thanks to a new rule imposed by East Devon District Council.

The new legislation comes as an effort to stop bold seagulls snatching food out of people’s hands.

But many tourists in Blackpool today said they would not back similar fines being introduced in the resort.

John Buller, 79, from Clitheroe, said: “I think it would be very unfair to introduce a ban. People can do worse things than feed a seagull.

“I’ve been feeding birds for a while. They’re really quite intelligent.

“The way their brains are structured is similar to a human’s.”

And Nikki Whatmough, 38, from Warrington, said a ban on feeding the birds could backfire.

She said: “Seagulls are scavanging birds, and they’re always going to be around. If they are well-fed then they are less likely to snatch food out of someone’s hands.

“I think it would be a good idea to teach people on the sorts of food they should be eating.

“There could be specific places where people are allowed to feed the seagulls. You could feed them on the beach but not on the street where everyone is doing their shopping.”

Her friend Andy Paton, 48, added: “Children love to feed the seagulls. Throwing them a chip from your butty is all part of coming to the beach.

“Obviously some people don’t like them and you can understand why, but if you’re down on the beach you know there are going to be seagulls there.”

However, some tourists took a harsher view on the gulls, which are famous for stealing sandwiches and chips and tearing open bin bags across coastal towns.

Alan Warburton, 65, from Bolton, said: “I think introducing a fine is a good idea. It’s either crack down on the number of seagulls or ban people from feeding them.

“It would stop people leaving their litter and their fish and chips leftovers all over the place.”

Anne Whatmough, 41, from Manchester, said: “A ban is a bit harsh but I understand why they do it, because seagulls are a nuisance. But when you live in a seaside town you can’t avoid them.

“I can see it from both sides.”

A Blackpool Council spokesman said they were unable to comment on the prospect of a feeding ban, but added that they were not aware of any plans to introduce one at this time.