A man has been left outraged after he was fine £150 for feeding ducks in West London. James Watson, 68, was charged the money via a fixed penalty notice, handed to him by a member of the Kingdom enforcement team on March 12 at 9.53am.
Kingdom, an outsourced security company, charged him for “throwing bird food on the ground and walking away” on behalf of Ealing Council. James claims he was throwing the food into the Grand Union Canal from the towpath in Southall.
However, the ticket says he was littering in Bedford Avenue, Hayes, a cul-de-sac three roads away from the Grand Union Canal. He also said he wasn’t throwing bird feed on the ground but instead into the water, where the ducks were eating it. James says he only realized the details on the ticket were wrong when he got home and was able to put his glasses on.
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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 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.”
Dave says he then approached the 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. He claims that despite showing officials the difference in locations and pictures of the bird feed used they eventually told him they can write his father a new ticket with the correct charge on, which Dave refused.
However Dave has now been able to get the ticket canceled and his dad was excused from paying the fine. The council apologised, to James and Dave, and said that from now on Kingdom security staff would not charge people for feeding ducks.
Dave continued: “My dad has heart conditions and this didn’t help with his stress. I’m 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 from 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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