Outrage as pensioner fined £150 feeding ducks as council accuse him of littering

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James Watson approached Ealing Council about the fine and was told that there is not an appeal process against fixed penalty notices’ and it would have to be contested in court

James was shocked when he got home to find out the charge he was given was 'wrong'
James was shocked when he got home to find out the charge he was given was ‘wrong’

A pensioner was left in disbelief after he was fined £150 by the council for feeding food to ducks in West London.

James Watson, 68, was given a fixed penalty notice by a member of the Kingdom enforcement team on March 12 at 9.53am.

Kingdom are an outsourced security company who charged Mr Watson for “throwing bird food on the ground and walking away” on behalf of Ealing Council.

Mr Watson said he was throwing food into the Grand Union Canal from the towpath in Southall, however, the ticket he received says he was littering in Bedford Avenue, Hayes, a cul-de-sac three roads away from the Grand Union Canal.

James says he wasn’t throwing bird feed on the ground but instead into the water, where the ducks were eating it.







The food James used was brought by his son so that the ducks were eating the right food that wasn’t toxic
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Image:

Dave Watson/BPM MEDIA)







The specialized duck food that James was using
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Image:

Dave Watson/BPM MEDIA)

He only realized the details on the ticket were wrong when he arrived home and was able to put his glasses on.

Dave Watson, James’ son, said that the incident had stressed his 68-year old dad, he admitted: “I am actually a volunteer for litter picking groups in Ealing so when my dad was accused of littering I was shocked.

“I had brought him the specialized feed to make sure he was helping the birds and the environment.

“We tried to appeal the ticket but there isn’t actually a formal appeal process for a fixed penalty notice.

“Even though the ticket had the wrong details on, wrong accusations and wrong road, he was still expected to pay it.

“He almost gave up and just paid the fine because contesting it in court would cost more money than paying the ticket would.

“It caused him a lot of stress when we knew that purpose duck food is not classed as litter because when it is thrown in the water and eaten the purpose is for it to be eaten, not littered.”

Mr Watson approached Ealing Council about the fine and was told that there is not an appeal process against fixed penalty notices’ and it would have to be contested in court.

And despite showing officials the difference in locations and pictures of the bird feed used, the council eventually told him they can write his father a new ticket with the correct charge on, which Dave refused.

James’ son has now successfully been able to get the ticket canceled and his dad was excused from paying the fine. The council apologized to both of them and said that from now on Kingdom security staff would not charge people for feeding ducks.

Dave Watson admitted: “My dad has heart conditions and this didn’t help with his stress. I am glad we didn’t pay the charge. Officials were very apologetic about the whole situation and assured me those feeding ducks won’t be prosecuted in the future.”

An Ealing Council spokesperson said: “In a densely populated urban environment, food thrown or dropped on the floor can attract mice and rats. The Canal and River Trust approached us to involve our Kingdom enforcement team to consider ways to reduce the amount of food left lying around on the towpath.

“On occasion this means handing out single fixed penalty notices to those who don’t play by the rules and spoil it for everyone else.

“This stretch of canal is regularly visited by the Kingdom enforcement team and they’ve received positive responses by most towpath users who understand that we want to keep our towpaths and waterways clean for people to enjoy.

“On this occasion, we appreciate that Mr Watson was feeding the ducks in the canal and not littering the towpath. We have canceled his fixed penalty notice, and have apologized to him directly.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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