Sandwell Council hit mother and baby with £75 fine for feeding ducks

A couple of weeks ago the WMTPA commented on how Sandwell Council wardens appeared to have been somewhat over zealous issuing on-the-spot fines, doling out an enormous 2,200 compared to just 336 in neighbouring Dudley. Well now an article in today’s Express & Star presents us with some of the unlikely victims of this local government avarice.


So we must be rational and assume that the warden to pedestrian ratio in the borough of Sandwell isn’t just 1:1, with those on foot being allocated their own personal council stalker on arrival, but in truth by all reports it does seem that wherever you are in Sandwell, whatever you’re doing, you’re probably being eyed by a jobsworth in a hi-vis jacket.


Baby criminal These predators are just waiting for you to put a foot wrong, and if you think they just have their eyes trained on reprobates and smokers then you’d be wrong. No-one flies above the radar in these five Black Country towns, and anything with a pulse is a potential cash cow.


Take mother Vanessa Kelly and her 17 month old son Harry. Now to you and I they may just look like your average mum and baby boy, but to a specially trained Sandwell Environmental Warden, they’re two prospective street demons who must be stopped in their tracks. You see, Vanessa and Harry have a bag, and they’ve come out to deliberately scatter its contents – that’s right – they’re feeding the ducks. Despicable behaviour.


Jokes aside, when this mother and son recently visited Smethwick Hall Park to do just that, Vanessa Kelly was astounded to be issued with a £75 fixed-penalty notice for littering although (somewhat bizarrely) Harry was allowed to continue the offence as he is too young to be prosecuted. Oh, and there were no signs to warn either of them that they could be attracting trouble.


Ms Kelly told the E&S:


 “We were both throwing crumbs to the ducks as the warden approached. I didn’t think anything of it and certainly didn’t think we were doing anything wrong, which is why I was surprised when she stopped me. She explained that it was banned because it could attract vermin, and I said it was fair enough and fastened the bag. I couldn’t believe my eyes when she then pulled out a little computer and started to issue a ticket. To be fined £75 for taking your child to feed the ducks is an absolute disgrace. I will be fighting this fine all the way.”


Those of you who’ve become familiar with the WMTPA blog will know that Sandwell Council are far from squeaky clean, but never before have they been known to stoop quite so low.


It’s rather too easy to pick this one apart, most decent people would find such an action indefensible on many different levels, so perhaps it’d be more appropriate to include some of the comments left by Express & Star readers who universally panned this outrageous action:


dickieg said: Nov 12th, 2009 at 11:39 am
The council are right, it does attract vermin such as rats, mice and JOBSWORTH WARDENS, like the one that issued the ticket


Brian said: Nov 12th, 2009 at 11:41 am
I despair. What kind of idiot would suggest that a fine is the correct way to deal with this? For goodness sake, what is wrong with just asking this lady and her child to stop? Simple common sense has left our world, especially it appears, in Sandwell.


jeffb said: Nov 12th, 2009 at 11:41 am
Another jobsworth I suppose, what has happened to a bit of common sense, have these robots been programmed by their masters to ignore common sense. I suppose a mother with a young child is an easy nick. It keeps the numbers up


Rachel said: Nov 12th, 2009 at 11:57 am
How sad is that we can no longer take our children to the park to feed the ducks!!!!


Cantello Rocket78 said: Nov 12th, 2009 at 12:04 pm
If what Miss Kelly says is true,issuing a fine is disgraceful.Throwing food and litter to the floor near to peoples homes is disgusting and anti-social,but feeding ducks in a park?Has the world gone mad?I bet the Warden and Council are really pleased to have prosecuted such a dangerous criminal.


PAUL MULLERY said: Nov 12th, 2009 at 2:17 pm
Remember the old song
Jobsworth, Jobsworth, its more than me jobsworth
I don’t care, rain or snow.
Whatever you want the answer’s no.
I can keep you standing forever in a queue.
And if you don’t like it you know what you can do.


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