Families caught feeding ducks and geese beside historic city’s river face £2,500 fine
By Emma Clark
PUBLISHED: 14:44, 27 June 2012 | UPDATED: 15:43, 27 June 2012
Furious parents now face a huge fine if they allow their children to feed the ducks along some parts of Ely River.
Residents labelled the decision ‘ridiculous’ when council officers agreed to punish anyone caught offering food to the ducks and geese on dry land in Ely, Cambridgeshire.
East Cambridgeshire District Council have ruled that ducks can only be fed if they are in the water and have fixed a penalty notice to a nearby lamppost as a warning.
The sign states that under the Envoironmental Protection Act 1990 a maximum penalty of £2,500 can be given for littering, including ‘the deposition of foodstuffs’.
The council says it is trying to stop people feeding the birds on land after complaints the wildfowl were churning up the grass.
But many residents feel they should be able to feed the swans, geese and ducks where they wish.
‘It is absolutely ridiculous to impose a fine on someone just for feeding the ducks,’ said mum Caroline Tayler, 33, who lives in Ely.
‘My children love coming down here to feed the ducks and get a lot of pleasure from it.
‘Now if I have to watch exactly where they throw their pieces of bread it’s going to be really stressful.’
Another resident John Patterson, 63, said: ‘I thought it was a joke when I saw the sign.
‘I’ve been going to feed the ducks there for years and it has never been a problem before.
The strict sign warning people in Ely not to feed ducks unless they are in the water
‘The ducks and geese are really popular in the city and the tourists love them too.
‘Now people are going to be worried about feeding them and just won’t bother anymore.’
Dave White, the district council’s waste team leader, said: ‘There has always been a great debate about ducks on Ely’s riverside, with residents and visitors increasingly commenting on the duck mess which they encounter every day.
‘To help, we are encouraging people to feed ducks responsibly on the water, in the bird’s natural environment, rather than on the pavement.
‘Considerable research in other areas of the country indicates this is the best way to address people’s concerns.
‘So in the first instance we will always offer the public advice regarding where they should be feeding the ducks ahead of issuing any form of fine.
‘The signs down by the riverside indicate the maximum penalty for persistent and consistent failure to follow the rules and would be awarded by a court.’
A spokesman for the council added: ‘If we caught someone feeding the ducks we would give a warning, but if they persisted they would get a £60 fine.
‘If they continued they could then get taken to court where they could get a maximum fine of £2,500.