A man who was recently on holiday in Paignton, Devon, has been fined £80 after dropping his ice cream cone when he was attacked by a flock of seagulls. 52-year-old Steve Higgins visited Torbay recently for a holiday with his mother, the pair took a trip to Paignton and after taking a stroll on the promenade to buy an ice-cream, Steve was attacked by a flock of seagulls. The seagulls took Steve's ice-cream but left him with the cone, which he put on the floor, and was issued with a Fixed Penalty Littering Fine.
Steve said: "I was walking along Paignton Promenade when I fancied an ice-cream. I had just got one and began to continue my walk when I was attacked by six or seven seagulls. I'm a tourist, I'm not used to things like that happening and it was completely unexpected.
The attack left me really shaken-up. The gulls had taken my ice-cream but had left me with the cone. 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.
Within seconds I was slapped with an £80 fine for littering.
"I was a tourist, I don't live down there, I'm not aware of these things. If I had been aware I wouldn't be walking around outside with an ice-cream. I was physically assaulted and I dropped the cone because I was scared for my own safety if they came back."
Steve, who lives in Yorkshire, has written a letter to 3gs, the environmental and civil enforcement company who issued him with the fine, to ask them to reconsider.
"I'm not aware of the laws down there, do you think it's littering?" added Steve.
"It was food-stuffs, it's bio-degradeable, so it's not going to stay there forever.
"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 wont come back. Is there a big problem with seagulls? And are people often fined for dropping food? 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."