A tourist who dropped his ice cream cone after he was attacked by a seagull was immediately fined – for LITTERING.
Furious Steve Higgins, 52, was on holiday when a flock of the birds flew down in an attempt to steal his snack.
The aggressive gulls knocked the Mr Whippy out of his hand on to the floor and he then dropped the remainder of the cone through fear of a further attack.
But his shock turned to anger when an inspector, who he claims witnessed the whole incident, issued him with a £80 fixed penalty notice for dropping the ice cream.
Steve, a parcel courier from Settle, North Yorks, was on a six day break with his 81-year-old mother Joan in Paignton, Devon, at the time.
He said: “I was walking along Paignton Promenade when I fancied an ice–cream.
“I was heading back to my mother when six or seven seagulls dive bombed me.
“They took my ice cream out of my hand. I shouted a few expletives and I was scared that they would come back again.
“I was scared for my own safety. I put the cone down on the grass verge and went to my car.
“The man then confronted me – I told him: ‘you just saw what happened’, but he wasn’t listening.
“He told me it was littering.
“I think it’s a disgrace.”
Steve said he then went to the police station where he was told he could appeal against the private environmental and civil enforcement company, 3gs.
Since the incident he has been in touch with the company, who have little sympathy.
He added: “They sent me some nasty emails.
“I took the punishment but it’s just the attitude.
“I’m not aware of the laws down there, do you think it’s littering?
“If there was a family on holiday and a child was attacked whilst eating, and dropped food on the floor would the parents be fined?
“I love it down in Torbay, but if things like this are going to happen I won’t come back.
“And are people often fined for this sort of thing? It is something that needs to be addressed, people will be put off visiting the area.”
A spokesperson for 3gs said: “We are satisfied that the fine was correctly issued in accordance with section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
“We cannot comment any further on individual cases.”
Torbay Council has been asked for a comment.
A Torbay Council spokesperson said: “With Torbay being a tourist destination and somewhere we want to keep clean and tidy for our residents too, we take littering very seriously.
“This is why we also encourage all our residents and visitors to take personal responsibility and not to drop litter and dispose of it in the right way.
“This is why we use a specialist environmental services company, 3GS, to help keep our streets, parks and open spaces clean and tidy. 3GS operates on a ‘cost neutral’ basis, which means that the service does not place any additional costs on Torbay Council.
“Whilst seagull ‘attacks’ are not common, unfortunately they do take place, particularly in seaside resorts like ours. For this reason, we encourage everyone, whether they live here or are visiting, not to feed seagulls to help reduce the possibility of attacks.
“Ensuring any leftover or unwanted food is deposed off in bins will also remove any potential food source for the gulls.”