No need for a flap, council insists over duck-feeding fines

EAST Cambs District Council has moved to calm fears that visitors to Ely’s Waterside will be hit with an instant �2,500 fine for feeding the ducks.

Complaints from residents of Waterside about duck mess on the streets prompted the authority to ban visitors for throwing down bread on the grass and pavement for the city’s iconic Muscovy ducks and geese earlier this year.

A sign erected by the authority in recent weeks specifically prohibits the “deposition of foodstuffs” by the Great Ouse and says people who flout the ban face a maximum penalty of �2,500.

Residents are being encouraged instead to feed the fowl on the river itself to stop litter and mess accumulating on the pavement.

Suggestions that throwing food down would attract an immediate fine of �2,500 have been rejected by council officers however, who said that only the most extreme and persistent offenders would be faced with sanctions.

The authority stressed that it would take continued disregard of the rules and advice over a number of months before a fine would be considered necessary.

Dave White, the council’s waste strategy team leader, said: “There has always been a great debate about ducks on Ely’s riverside, with residents and visitors increasing commenting on the duck mess which they encounter every day.

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“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.”