Woman left furious over ‘extortionate’ £150 fine for throwing sandwich crust to pigeons

Hazel Kirby called the fine ”disproportionate” and said the fine was triple the fine paid by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for breaching coronavirus restrictions during the pandemic

Hazel says she had two small crusts left over and gave them to the pigeons

A retired woman has slammed the decision to fine her £150 for throwing two small crusts from a sandwich to pigeons.

Hazel Kirby, 61, believes her punishment is “extortionate” and said the fine was triple the fine paid by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for breaching coronavirus restrictions during the pandemic.

She called the fine “disproportionate” to the current minimum penalty of £100 for a speeding offense in a vehicle in the UK.

Hazel, from Bolton, was issued with a fixed penalty notice for a ‘littering offence’ under Section 87 of the Environmental Act 1990 after throwing the crusts in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester Evening News reported.

And as she didn’t pay within 10 days, the fine rose from £120 to £150 as she left Greater Manchester the following day to visit a friend in the south who had just lost her husband.

Hazel was given a fixed penalty notice for feeding the pigeons in Piccadilly Gardens Manchester


Manchester Evening News)

Haze, who used to work in Manchester for the University of Manchester and for a charity, told the Manchester Evening News: “The fine is extortionate and I believe it is disproportionate when you compare it to a speeding fine – which is a potentially a life -threatening offense.

“Is it fair to say that the council is being overzealous? It just seems easy money to me to stop and fine someone for giving a pigeon a few crumbs of bread.

“This whole episode has made me think, do I really want to go back into Manchester ever again?

“I dropped a crust to a bird – it is not the crime of the century. I do not drop litter and am a responsible citizen.

“I just feel it is heavy-handed on the part of the council. It is triple the amount of money paid by the Prime Minister and it comes within the context of the cost of living crisis.

“A lot of people will not be able to afford a fine like this.”

A photograph of her fixed penalty notice


Manchester Evening News)

“Not the crime of the century”, she said


Manchester Evening News)

The 61-year-old went into the city center on March 31 for a hair and podiatry appointment.

She was early and stopped to buy a cheese and ham sandwich from Marks and Spencer for her lunch.

Hazel said: “I was eating the sandwich in Piccadilly Gardens. I had the two small crusts left over at the end which I threw to a pigeon which ate them up more or less straightaway.

“I just chucked it across and a pigeon swooped in and took it. It was there for a matter of seconds and as far as I am concerned, there was no littering.

“I went over to dispose of the wrapping in a bin and a woman from the council called me back.

“She was very careful to not tell me what the fine would be until she took my details.” Hazel said she provided her details of her and was told then how much she would have to pay.

“I was given a ticket at the scene, I have paid because I knew that if it went on anymore…she said it could go up to a maximum of £2,500 or I could go to court.

“When she told me how much it was, I heard the voice of a man behind me telling me to tell her to go away, in colorful language.

“The day after I went down south to support a friend and I had been mulling over what to do with it.

“You could argue, is it really littering? The thing for me is that it seems an extortionate amount. I just think that it’s not on and the whole issue needs airing in public.

“It is too much money – I thought it would be a £30 fine or something like that. Not this.”

She said she couldn’t see any warning signs about littering and feeding food to pigeons in the gardens.

Environmental enforcement company 3GS, which issues notices for the council, but doesn’t set fine amounts, said to Hazel in email correspondences there were 11 signs around Piccadilly Gardens in total.

3GS said feeding pigeons in ‘most cities’ was a problem and can encourage pests and vermin into an areas. They also said feeding birds carries ‘both nuisance and health implications’.

A Manchester City Council spokesperson said in response: “We know that people want to see a clean city center which is why we make no apology for continuing to crackdown on littering.

“We have dedicated officers in the city who won’t hesitate to take action against any person found dropping litter, no matter what type of litter it is, and anyone who is caught can expect a fixed penalty notice.

“There are more than 700 bins across the city so there is no excuse for dropping litter.”

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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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