Ammon News – A father has been charged with littering after feeding ducks in west London.
James Watson, 68, was given a £150 fixed penalty notice by Ealing Council for throwing bird food on the ground and then walking away.
He says he dumped the food in the Grand Union Canal at Southall, but the ticket says he was in a cul-de-sac three miles away.
James’ son Dave said: ‘I actually volunteer for litter picking groups in Ealing so when my dad was accused of littering I was shocked. I had brought him the specialist food to make sure he was helping the birds and the environment.
“We tried to appeal the ticket, but there really isn’t a formal appeal process for a fixed penalty notice.
“Even though the ticket had wrong details, wrong charges and wrong route, he still had to pay it.
“He almost gave up and just paid the fine because challenging it in court would cost more than paying the ticket.
“It caused him a lot of stress when we knew that duck food was not considered litter because when it is thrown in the water and eaten, the goal is for it to be eaten, not thrown away. “
Dave was told that there was no appeal process against fixed penalty notices and that he would have to challenge it in court.
He claims that despite showing authorities the difference in locations and pictures of the bird food being used, they eventually told him they could write his dad a new note with the correct charge, that which Dave refused.
However, Dave was now able to have the ticket canceled and his father was excused from paying the fine.
The council apologized to James and Dave and said that from now on Kingdom security staff would no longer charge people to feed the ducks.
Dave said: “My dad has heart problems and it hasn’t helped with his stress. I’m glad we didn’t pay the fee. Officials apologized for the whole situation and assured me that these nurturing ducks would not be prosecuted in the future.
A spokesman for Ealing Council said: ‘In a densely populated urban environment, food thrown or dropped on the ground can attract mice and rats.
“The Canal and River Trust have approached us to involve our Kingdom enforcement team to consider ways to reduce the amount of food left on the towpath.
“Occasionally that means handing out one-time fixed penalty notices to those who break the rules and spoil it for everyone else.
“This section of canal is regularly visited by the Kingdom Enforcement Team and they have received positive responses from most towpath users who understand that we want to keep our towpaths and waterways clean so that people can take advantage of it.
“On this occasion we appreciate that Mr Watson was feeding the ducks in the canal and not littering the towpath. We rescinded his notice of fixed penalty and apologized directly to him.