Pensioner fined £150 for feeding ducks

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A man has spoken out after being fined £150 for feeding ducks in his local area. James Watson, 68, received a fixed penalty notice from a member of the Kingdom enforcement team on March 12 at 9.53am for “throwing bird food on the ground and walking away.”

The fine was handed out on behalf of Ealing Council while James claims he was throwing the food into the Grand Union Canal to feed the local birds. Despite this, the ticket states he was littering in Bedford Avenue, Hayes, a cul-de-sac three roads away from the canal. James also rebutted that he wasn’t throwing the food on the ground but in the water where the ducks were evidently eating it.

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I have noticed the error on the ticket when he got home and put his glasses on where he was then able to read all the details properly. James’son, Dave Watson, told MyLondon that the incident had stressed his 68-year-old dad. He said: “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.



The specialized duck food that James was using

“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.”

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Dave then approached Ealing council to discuss the error of the fine but was informed that there is no appeal process against fixed penalty notices and he would have to contest it in court. He claims that even though he showed officials the difference in locations and pictures of the bird feed used they simply replied they could write his father a new ticket with the correct charge on – David refused.

But, Dave has now gotten the ticket canceled and his dad pardoned for the fine. The council apologized to James and Dave and stated that the Kingdom security staff will no longer charge members of the public for feeding ducks.

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

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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.

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“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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