28/06/2012 08:22 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Feeding The Ducks? That'll Be A £2,500 Fine

Feeding the ducks? That'll be a £2,500 fine PA Stock image

Feeding the ducks: it's one of the simplest – and cheapest – pleasures you can share with your children.

But in one part of Britain, it could turn out to be a very expensive indulgence.

For council killjoys in Ely, Cambridgeshire, have threatened to FINE families up to £2,500 for feeding the ducks and geese on local waterways – a move that has ruffled some feathers!

Waterfowl lovers say the move is "ludicrous" and insist people should be able to feed the ducks as and how they see fit.

Locals got into a flap after officials put up signs warning that the big fine can be levied under Section 87 of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act for unauthorised feeding of waterfowl.

East Cambridgeshire District Council introduced a local by-law earlier to ban feeding on grass areas and pavements near the River Ouse in the city.

The council created designated feeding areas beside the river to encourage the birds to stay on the water and stop them fouling pavements and churning up grass areas.

The signs state that ducks and geese should be fed on the water only, not the land and warn that the £2,500 fine can be levied 'for littering which includes the deposition of foodstuffs."

One protestor, grandmother Justine Fox, said: "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."

Another Frank Pledger, 53, said: "I can't get my head around it. Just because someone might feed the ducks on a bit of grass they could be slapped with a fine? It's pathetic.

"These birds have been here for years and we should live with them in harmony not keep going against them like the council seems to be doing."

But Dave White, the council's waste team leader, told the Telegraph: "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."

What do you think?