PORTADOWN pensioner Leslie Harrison is going to court to fight an £80 fine issued by a council environmental warden for feeding pigeons in the town centre.
Leslie (69), who has become famous for his antics with his feathered friends, was officially warned by the council earlier this month that he faced being fined if he continued to feed pigeons outside St Mark’s Church.
But the pensioner defied the warning and was issued the £80 fine by a council environmental warden on Monday around 12.30 after he was reported by a member of the public for throwing bird seed and bread onto the ground.
Leslie initially refused to provide his personal details to the council warden.
“He (the warden) told me to lift the bread. He must have thought that he was talking to a dog,” said Leslie.
The pensioner’s refusal prompted the warden to contact the police and subsequently two officers arrived and informed Leslie that he must supply the information. He relented and the fixed penalty notice was issued.
“I felt as though I was being tried in public. I don’t want to go to a public park, I want to feed them there (outside St Mark’s),” he said.
Leslie is adamant that he will not pay the fine, which he must do within 14 days in order to avoid the matter going to court. Instead, Leslie added, he has sought legal advice. “I could up end up paying extra costs but I don’t mind. What harm am I doing?”
The fixed penalty notice, which has been seen by the Portadown Times, stated that Leslie was observed by the warden depositing litter and was issued the fine on the grounds that the litter was “creating an environmental nuisance (which was) detrimental to public amenities”.
In a council statement, a spokeswoman confirmed that a warden had issued Leslie a fixed penalty notice and that police had been in attendance. Further outlining why the fine had been issued, the spokeswoman continued, “The plaza was covered in large quantities of bird seed, bread and bird poo, as well as the partial remains of a bird which appeared to have been eaten by vermin.”
The spokeswoman also stressed that the council has had to “divert resources” to clean the area outside St Mark’s every day, resulting in “valuable resources” being “taken away” from other areas in the borough.
In response that it is unhygienic and creating a mess, Leslie said, “I would say to anyone who has a problem with it, to take their questions to the Lord. He made them (the pigeons) that way.
“Most of the people I meet have no problem with it. I feed the pigeons six days a week. I don’t feed them on Sundays and when weddings and funerals are on (at the Church).”
Leslie admitted that he had been verbally attacked on one occasion. “But most people support me. Lots of people come up to me and say ‘Hello’. They like the fact that I’m feeding the pigeons,” he added.
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