A QUARTER of a million pounds has been earmarked by the Government to help tackle an urban menace: seagulls.

Brighton and Hove’s gulls have a reputation for aggravating residents and visitors alike with incidents of bin bags being ripped apart and food being snatched from people’s hands.

The Government’s £250,000 will be used for research into how to deal with growing numbers of the birds in towns and cities following a campaign by Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster who dubbed them a “menace”.

While he acknowledged seagull numbers were up, rescue veteran Roger Muselle, of Roger’s Wildlife in Brighton, said the funding was a “waste of money”.

He said: “I do not know what the outcome would be, if they wanted to do a cull they would do a cull – let’s hope they find there is not a major problem.

“I find the majority of people like having the gulls around, but there is a minority who don’t like them and an even smaller group who will try to harm them.

“Some 15 years ago we only had 60 gulls in one year and then last year we had about 600. A lot of the cliffs were they stay have been shaved off and that has not helped. There is now a nucleus of gulls that nest on buildings each year.”

John Butler, from Bird Control Sussex, said he gets calls “365 days a year” regarding seagulls.

He said: “They have changed their habits and there is less fish in the sea so they are raiding. The investment is not going to help unless the law is changed as we cannot touch them.”

John Whitehead, director of pest control firm Cleankill Environmental Services in Seaford, previously featured in The Argus after gulls left him with a £500 cleaning bill after smothering his car in bird poo.

He said: “There are more and more gulls around. But I personally feel it is just part and parcel of living on the coast.”

Even the Prime Minster had his say on the matter after the budget announcement.

Mr Cameron, who regularly takes holidays with his family in Cornwall, said: “I haven’t felt particularly oppressed by seagulls. In my distant past I remember some seagulls taking the ham out of a sandwich. But I haven’t held that against the entire seagull population since.”

Top Argus gull stories that got us in a flap

1. GULL NIGHTMARE – Rosemary Howat from Hove had to wear a hard hat when going into her garden after she was repeatedly harassed by dive bombing seagulls. One also used to sneak into her kitchen and steal her cat’s food.

2. GULL PHOTO FINISH – A seagull photobombed the photo finish at Brighton Racecourse. The bird was caught on camera soaring past the horses – finishing the race in second.

3. GULL ATTACK – Amy Derham was attacked a seagull which drew blood from her head and left her needing a trip to the doctors. She was forced to walk around with an umbrella for protection.

4. GULL WARNING – Owners of the Queen’s Park Kiosk in Brighton had warn customers who bought tuna sandwiches after hungry seagulls started dive-bombing them.

5. GULL FRIEND – Fred the seagull has been a friend of award-winning Argus photographer Simon Dack since he moved into his Queen’s Park home 27 years ago. Fred is thought to be 30 – only a few months younger than the oldest seagull ever.