A distraught pet owner who put up posters of his lost cat was forced to rip them down on Christmas Eve after being threatened with a £1,000 fine. Mike Harding, 44, of Castle Road, Bedford was issued the ultimatum by Bedford Borough Council which accused him of ‘fly-posting’ after advertising information on his missing moggy. The driving instructor lost his seven-year-old tabby cat ‘Wookie’ in November and put up posters in nearby streets in an attempt to be re-united with his pet.
But last week the borough council gave Mr Harding an option of getting rid of the signs within 48 hours or risk facing a hefty fine, despite receiving the letter less than day before the 9am deadline. Mr Harding said: “I received a call from the council telling me that I needed to take the posters down. We’ve had a few sick hoax calls and I thought this was another and told them to call back. When they did, they told me that I shouldn’t be putting up posters and if I gave them my address they would tell me why.
“So I did and I was expecting information leaflets, instead they sent a letter saying I could be fined. It was a shock, I’m a law abiding citizen and I’ve not even got so much as a speeding ticket and I’m being threatened to be fined £1,000 for looking for my cat. You would think the council would have some compassion.” After returning from work Mr Harding raced around taking the posters down before the council’s deadline. He eventually got home at 3am. Bedford Borough Council defended its actions and a spokesman said: “Our Environmental Enforcement Team discovered more than 20 of Mr Harding’s ‘lost cat’ posters.
“Some were nailed to eight trees along The Embankment. As well as damaging trees, fly-posting is also illegal and may lead to fines of up to £1,000. An environmental enforcement officer contacted Mr Harding on December 22 to say we would not prosecute if the signs were removed within 48 hours of receipt of the warning letter, or by 9am on December 24 at the latest. The warning letter was posted on December 22, the same day Mr Harding verbally agreed that he would remove the posters. Mr Harding has removed the posters and we are satisfied that this matter has been resolved.”