A MUM claims she was given a £75 fine for littering when she left a half-eaten tray of chips on a wall to stop her toddler son dashing into a busy road.
Paula Sanderson, 33, claims she was walking along The Front at Seaton Carew on Saturday afternoon with her two-year-old son, Liam, when he suddenly darted away from her and edged towards the road.
Paula, who was visiting Seaton from Seaham, says she immediately put the tray of chips on a wall and and ran to grab Liam.
But seconds later, when she returned to pick up her half-eaten lunch, she was given a £75 fine for littering by a Hartlepool Council worker who was patrolling the area.
Hartlepool Borough Council litter chiefs dispute her claims and say she has the right to appeal.
But Paula, a care worker, says she will pay the fine as she couldn’t afford to risk further financial penalty by taking the matter through the courts.
She said: “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. That was the most expensive bag of chips I’ve ever had.
“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, who was also with her brother Carl Sanderson on the day out, 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.
“Miss Sanderson does have the right of appeal.”