A WILDLIFE lover has been fined £50 for ‘littering’ after a warden spotted him throwing ‘tiny pieces’ of a muffin to seagulls from his car.
Fuming Ian Chapman, 62, accused a council of ‘extortion’ for hitting him with a fixed penalty notice for feeding the birds with bits of his breakfast.
Mr Chapman (pictured) denies littering and says the pieces of muffin were eaten instantly.
He was issued with a fine after a community protection officer spotted him feeding the seagulls from his car which he had driven to a Morrisons car park.
Mr Chapman, from Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, said: ‘I can’t understand. They’re criminalising hard-working people, for what reason I don’t know.
‘It just seems like extortion to some degree.
‘It’s absolute pettiness and that’s how they create an income.’
According to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a person is guilty of littering ‘if he throws down, drops or otherwise deposits any litter in any place’.
Mr Chapman, a father of three grown-up children, who lives with 66-year-old wife Sue, said: ‘I opened the window and threw two tiny bits of bread from my bun to about 20 seagulls, and that was it.
‘You can imagine two pieces of bread between about 20 seagulls. It was gone in seconds.’
But two days after leaving the supermarket car park in Bulwell on December 18, he received the fixed penalty notice from Nottingham city council.
It accused him of ‘leaving litter and moving away’ and said that he ‘threw food waste out [of the] driver’s side window’.
He said: ‘I tried to explain to the powers that be that if I was intending on littering, I would have thrown more than two bits of bread out of the window.
‘I would’ve thrown the rest of it, and the packaging.
‘It wasn’t food waste. It was at my expense, these two little bits of bread. It’s not in itself a crime.’
Mr Chapman, who describes himself as a ‘wildlife enthusiast’, said he was a member of the RSPB and the Bat Conservation Trust.
The contracts manager for a company that supplies heating and air conditioning for large buildings added: ‘I would never dream of littering. It seems crazy that they do this to ordinary people.’
He still denies having done anything wrong but said he paid the fine because he ‘didn’t trust the council not to escalate it to something bigger’.
When he contacted them to dispute the fine, a member of the fixed penalty notice team said the authority ‘classifies feeding birds as littering due to the various problems it can cause’.
They added: ‘These problems can include the bread attracting pests and vermin, low-flying birds causing an accident by distracting drivers and pedestrians, as well as the mess left by both the bread and birds.
‘There is no guarantee that the birds will eat everything you dispose of therefore community protection officers will issue fixed penalty notices as it is an offence.’
Cllr Toby Neal, portfolio holder for community protection at Nottingham city council, said: ‘This involved an incident when one of our officers observed someone throwing a significant amount of food waste from the window of a car.
‘It was clearly an act of littering, which wasn’t disputed at the time since the fine was paid.
‘We take pride in the cleanliness of Nottingham and expect others to do the same.
‘We’re not in the business of stopping people feeding birds, but if that becomes dumping a lot of food waste on the ground as in this case, then we will act to keep our city the cleanest in the UK and dissuade others from thinking that littering is okay.’
Josie Appleton, director of civil liberties organisation the Manifesto Club, who has been working with Mr Chapman to help raise awareness, said: ‘Defra guidance clearly states that people shouldn’t be fined for small or trivial offences, such as feeding the birds.
‘Yet councils up and down the country are still hitting people with fines, either to make money or to meet the targets of officious departments.
‘The two small pieces of bread didn’t even touch the ground — it beggars belief that Nottingham council and police officials could defend this absurd penalty.
‘They should concentrate on genuine crime and social problems rather than inventing them.’