Killjoy council bans feeding ducks
Filed under: News
The strict rules have been slammed as 'ludicrous' by many residents, yet the local council states it is necessary after receiving complaints that the wildfowl were churning up the grass.
East Cambs District Council officers have the power to fine anyone caught feeding the city's duck, geese or swan population anywhere other than on the water. However, council bosses insist only persistent offenders would be punished and 'advice' would be given in the first instance, according to a report in the Cambridge News.
In an attempt to lure the birds off land and into the water, the council has fixed a penalty notice to a lamppost in front of the city's most popular duck feeding spot on Waterside.
The sign states that under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 a maximum penalty of £2,500 can be given for littering, including 'the deposition of foodstuffs'.
Yet many local people feel they should be able to feed the swans, geese and ducks where they wish. Ely resident Justine Fox told Cambridge News: "I thought the sign might have been a prank but it seems it isn't.
"It's absolutely ludicrous and just sums up the world we live in today if you ask me. My grandchildren love coming down to the river and feeding the ducks. We're blessed in Ely to have so many different ducks, geese, swans, as well as lots of moorhens and coots.
"Feeding the ducks is one of those traditional, fun activities for families and I think the council forgets what a big hit these birds are with our tourists."
The move by East Cambs District Council to stifle a harmless family activity echoes the recent killjoy tactics of Argyll and Bute Council, which banned a schoolgirl from taking photos of her lunch to post on her blog.
Martha Payne, from Argyll, started her blog called Never Seconds in April, as a writing project with her father. With the permission of teachers she photographed lunches – many less than appetising - as they arrived on white plastic trays. She gave the contents marks out of 10 on a "Food-o-meter" scale for how healthy they were and whether or not she found any stray hairs.
In little over a week the blog was shared on social networking sites and had received 100,000 visitors, before Argyll and Bute Council forced Martha to stop photographing and posting her school meals.
The council later issued a statement defending its position and claimed media coverage of the blog had led catering staff to fear for their jobs. It added: "The photographic images uploaded appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available to pupils, so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen."
However, following a barrage of protests on social media sites and support for Martha from chef-turned-school meal campaigner Jamie Oliver, council leader Roddy McCuish changed his mind and lifted the controversial ban.