FEATHER-brained council bosses are spending £100,000 on a bird of prey to guard a pile of rubbish.
North Ayrshire Council have agreed to pay £104,164 of public cash to a private company to have a raptor “guard” a single landfill site from sea gulls.
The bird of prey will work “full time” shifts of eight hours a day, five days a week, according to officials.
The council admits the cost of putting a bird on the payroll equates to £12.50 an hour – twice the minimum wage.
The contract’s publication comes at a time when North Ayrshire Council have proposed over £2m of cuts which could include closing primary school kitchens and slashing the hours of some workers.
The move was branded as an “astonishing” waste of resources by the council’s critics.
The contract which the council have awarded reads: “North Ayrshire Council requires to appoint a provider of raptor control at Shewalton Landfill Site.”
The contract period will be for a period of two years with an option to extended for a further two years subject to satisfactory performance and budget availability.”
Shewalton Landfill Site is in Irvine, on the west coast of North Ayrshire, and the site is generally used by rubbish trucks to dump household waste.
It is not known exactly which breed of raptor will be used to patrol the landfill site, but similar operations have employed hawks and eagles.
Eben Wilson – of Taxpayer Scotland – said: “This is an astonishing amount of money for this service.
“Someone should make sure that our taxes are being put to good use here and ensure that any claims of success prior to the contract are verifiable and then monitor results with a get out clause if the initiative does not work.
“It might be better to fill in the landfill with the money.”
Scottish Conservative local authority spokesman Cameron Buchanan said: “This is a drastic measure and you would hope that the local authority had thoroughly looked into the cost.
“It appears that it is a waste of resources and other ways of preventing the seagull problem must be available.”
A spokesman for North Ayrshire Council said: “In reality, the contract equates to a rate of £12.50 an hour.
“Over the course of a four-year contract, the company would be paid approximately £26,000 a year which would require a bird of prey to be on site for eight hours a day, five days a week.
“This allows us to comply with the conditions of the landfill site’s Pollution Prevention and Control Permit, which is regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
“We have tried a number of other methods of keeping the seagulls away from the landfill site and we are confident this is the most effective method.”