Soho fears a seagull ‘fight-back’

Nests are investigated after swoops on pedestrians

Friday, 18th February — By Hannah Neary

Al fresco Berwick Street Soho IMG_8855 w

SEAGULL nests are being investigated by the city council after a woman and her dog were attacked in a busy Soho street.

Residents and traders say Berwick Street needs better protecting following a series of swoops on by-passers and small dogs.

One woman was pecked on the roof of her home in Kemp House.

Robin Smith, who runs the Soho Dairy, said the attacks began early on in the pandemic, when sea-gulls flocked to the area looking for food from al fresco diners.

He said: “Seaside Soho is what we called it in the pandemic, when you had all the seagulls and al fresco dining. They attacked dogs. You see seagulls come down repeatedly and stab a pigeon in the side and kill them. We could do without that bit.”

He added “I feel for them. It’s not nice being attacked by seagulls but some people may be provoking them. They’ve got a right to be here.”

There are concerns seagulls may be fighting back after residents have tried to remove nests from a roof garden in Kemp House.

Westminster City Council’s Labour group said in a newsletter: “After a Berwick Street resident was attacked by a seagull recently, we have asked the housing team to investigate the seagull nests at the top of Kemp House.”

A man who lives at Kemp House, who did not wish to be named, said residents had waited years for a roof garden to be built on the block and it finally opened last spring. A few weeks later the attacks began. He added: “The roof garden was a real asset that residents were waiting years for but then it was unusable.

“It’s been a disaster. We were finally told we could use it. We had it for about four weeks but then three babies were there and that was that.”

One Soho resident said: “I can’t see them from where I live but we still hear them squawking away. There was once an issue with them at a nearby fish restaurant. They would come down like hawks.”

Berwick Street is a historic spot in the heart of Soho brimming with pubs and market traders. In the 1990s, it was known as the “Golden Mile” of vinyl and was pictured on the album cover for Oasis’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? – with Kemp House visible in the background.

The council’s lead housing councillor David Harvey said: “Seagulls are indeed a protected species and it is illegal to interfere with nests during the breeding season and immediately after hatching.

“Our housing team took appropriate action as soon as they were allowed to, to ensure that the birds do not return to the site. We are also looking at putting in other measures to reduce the chances of this happening again.”

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