A MUM claims she was fined £75 for littering when she left a half-eaten tray of chips on a wall to stop her toddler son dashing into a busy road.
Seaham woman Paula Sanderson said it “was the most expensive bag of chips I’ve ever had,” after the incident when she was walking along The Front, at Seaton Carew,
The 33-year-old was with her two-year-old son Liam, and said he suddenly darted away and edged towards the road, so she put the tray of chips on a wall and ran to grab him.
But seconds later, when Paula returned to pick up her half-eaten lunch, she was given a £75 fine for littering by a Hartlepool Council worker patrolling the area.
The authority’s litter chiefs today disputed her claims and said she has the right to appeal over the incident, on Saturday afternoon.
But Paula, a care worker from Alexandrina Street, said she will pay the fine as she cannot afford to risk a bigger financial penalty by taking the matter further.
She added: “We had enjoyed a nice day at Seaton Carew, we’d been along the front and in the arcades with Liam, and he was really enjoying himself.
“But this put a real dampener on the day, and I certainly won’t be going back to Seaton Carew.
“It happened so quickly, I couldn’t believe the council warden even had time to see me, the whole thing must have taken less than a minute.
“I was holding Liam’s hand, but he wriggled away and was going towards the road. I did what any mother would have done, and instinctively went to grab him.
“I put the chips on the wall, grabbed him, then turned round and went back to where the chips were.
“There was still half a tray left, so I hadn’t just dumped them.
“If I was just throwing the chips away, I wouldn’t have gone back to where I put the tray.
“But the council warden wrote me a ticket out, and said I had to pay £75.”
Paula added: “I’m fuming about being fined, but what would anyone else have done?
“What was I expected to do, go and look for a bin instead of stopping Liam from running into the road?”
A council spokesman said: “Our enforcement officer clearly saw Miss Sanderson place the chip tray down and walk away from it.
“The enforcement officer saw nothing to suggest that Miss Sanderson was chasing after the child, and the child did not appear to be at any imminent risk of running into the road.”