THE biggest ever crackdown on Worcester's gulls has been launched, with council chiefs sending them a defiant message: "This is it."

Worcester City Council has agreed to spend £15,000 - triple the normal yearly fund - in a serious effort to tackle the pesky scavengers.

The spending will see special 'gull proof' bins placed at key locations in the city, which the birds are unable to open.

A wave of activity will also see cafe owners given advice on how to prevent seagulls preying on customers' tables, while a trial to paint rooftops red - a colour the birds seem to think is dangerous - will be extended.

The Labour cabinet met last night to agree the spending package, saying it was time to act.

Councillor Joy Squires, the deputy leader and cabinet member responsible for the finances, said: "One of the concerns we had at the back end of last year was, if the council voted to spend an extra £15,000, will we be able to get value for money from that.

"That's why we asked scrutiny (a council committee) to look at it - and the presentation to scrutiny did provide evidence that by using a range of factors, we would be able to tackle the gull population.

"And it includes things I'm interested in, like the red roofs trial which has been shown to work."

She also said the measures would be vital, with the emergence of a host of new city eateries opening this summer at the £20 million Cathedral Square.

"Come the summer, we'll have several new eating establishments with outside seating areas in the city - it's really important they don't become the next 'big attraction' for the gulls."

She added: "Hopefully, this is it for the gulls now."

As the Worcester News has reported in recent weeks, for the last decade council chiefs have only spent around £5,500 a year on gulls.

The work is contracted out to Red Kite pest control and despite the low spend the city centre's population of nesting pairs has fallen, standing at 181 at the last count compared to 217 in 2013.

But there are serious concerns the problem is as bad as ever, with many gulls pushed out into residential areas like the KFC at Blackpole Retail Park, Warndon.

Even the city's own councillors have disputed the data, with some saying they refuse to believe it.

In recent months residents in the city centre, such as the flats around Nashes Passage and Phoenix Court, have complained bitterly about properties being covered in filthy gull droppings.

Householders in Albion Mill, Diglis, said they stopped hanging clothes out to dry last year, there were reports of children being 'dive-bombed' by gulls in St John's, and one woman, 22-year-old Jessica Charles, was bit by one near the Swan Theatre.

Calls for a potential cull, led by Councillor Alan Amos, have been rejected.