Seaside residents and holidaymakers who feed seagulls could be fined under new council powers in an effort to stop the birds attacking people for food.
People who feed the often aggressive animals could be hit with an £80 fine as part of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) issued by East Devon District Council.
The ban comes after much debate about how to tackle what has been described as a “scourge” on Britain’s seaside areas.
In 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron said a “big conversation” was needed about the threat from seagulls, and he recalled ham once being stolen from a sandwich by the birds.
While gulls are an important part of the coastal environment, their behaviour can be problematic, said East Devon District councillor Iain Chubb.
He said: “You like to see the birds, it’s a nice part of the landscape, but you just don’t want them to be aggressive.”
The fines will be aimed at addressing habitual feeders and cafes and restaurants which do not dispose of waste food properly, he said.
“It’s more a fine for where there is, say a catering establishment with bad practice of disposing of food, or there are little old ladies who like to go down and feed the seagulls,” said the councillor, who holds the environment portfolio.
“It’s one of those things where, if you’ve got somebody who is habitually feeding seagulls, it’s something to say you shouldn’t be doing this, there is a fine at the end of the day.”
Mr Chubb described the new measure as a “final backstop” which tackles the issue where anti-litter legislation could not, and added: “There aren’t going to be the police out looking for people throwing chips at birds, that’s for sure.”
In February MPs debated the issue ahead of breeding season, warning that pensioners had been among those attacked by the birds.