WIGAN Council has made a u-turn over its decision to issue an 82-year-old woman with a fine for feeding pigeons.

As previously reported in the Journal, the pensioner was handed the £50 fixed penalty notice by a council environment officer for breaching section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act after being seen throwing bird food for pigeons on Bradshawgate.

Now the council has decided to cancel the ticket and penalty fine ‘as a gesture of goodwill’.

Clr Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for the environment at Wigan Council, said: “Feeding pigeons is an environmental crime that encourages them to gather in large numbers and there are very real health effects resulting from this.

“Although the incidence of infection from pigeons is fairly rare, the fact remains that they carry disease, which can prove fatal for humans.

“Furthermore, each year pigeons cause millions of pounds worth of damage - destroying insulation in buildings, defacing surfaces and blocking pipes and gutters with droppings, which can lead to secondary damage such as wet rot.

“This is not the first time we have had issues with residents and visitors to the borough feeding the pigeons and it is important to reinforce that this is an environmental crime and there are notices in place to warn people that it is an offence to feed pigeons.

“In relation to this specific case we have decided that on this occasion we will cancel the ticket and the penalty fine. I hope this will be seen as a genuine gesture of goodwill on behalf of the council.

“However, this is not the first occasion she has been warned about feeding pigeons.

“Should she be caught feeding pigeons again it will need to be dealt with as an environmental crime."

The elderly woman’s son, who lives in Leigh, said: “I have asked my mother if she has been warned before about feeding pigeons, she says she can’t remember being told but her memory isn’t good at the best of times.

“As for notices warning people of feeding pigeons, I haven’t seen any, especially around the area where my mother was ticketed.”