A student whose discarded bag of fried chicken prompted a regional daily web story which went viral has been fined for littering.
As reported on HTFP, the Gloucestershire Echo urged the owner of a bag full of Kentucky Fried Chicken found strewn across a Cheltenham pavement to come forward telling their story.
The ‘rubbish’ tale received national attention, but 21-year-old Callum Meek has now landed himself in trouble with Cheltenham Borough Council after contacting the Echo to explain how the bag ended up on the ground.
Callum, pictured below, explained that he had bought the food in the early hours of last Thursday morning after a pirate-themed night out in a local bar.
Sadly, the paper bag holding the food broke shortly afterwards and he was unable to salvage his purchase.
However, the council has decided to make an example of Callum, a second year business student at the University of Gloucestershire, and has issued him with an £80 fixed penalty notice for littering.
Councillor Andrew McKinlay, the authority’s cabinet member for development and safety, said: “Nobody wants to see litter on our streets and residents of the town will want to know that we are doing all we can to keep Cheltenham tidy.
“At first glance this might be no more than the consequence of high jinks, and some of the reaction to the Echo’s story was undoubtedly amusing.
“However, the unpleasant result of littering like this and the £2m annual bill for clearing the streets is no laughing matter. That’s why the council has sent a fine to Callum and we hope he will pick up his litter in future.”
The Echo had received some criticism for running the initial story, pictured below, but Paul Wiltshire, who recently left his role of editorial trainer at former Local World titles including the Echo, has spoken up in defence of the piece.
Paul, who has taken up a full-time lecturing role at the University of Gloucestershire, wrote on his personal blog that “the joy of multimedia journalism is the freedom we now have to tell all kinds of stories in new and engaging ways”.
He continued: “It may well be that some of the impressive audience for the latest chip tale was viewing the story ironically, with that annoying question ‘slow news day?’ getting many a run-out.
“But, gratifyingly, many of those enjoying the story had their tongues as firmly in their cheeks as did the Echo’s news team.”
Paul concluded: “At the end of the day, if all the Echo had done on the day in question was write about abandoned KFC meals, our industry would be in a pretty poor state.
“But on that same day, reporters were covering a major fire, the sentencing of a death crash driver, and dozens of other more serious stories.
“The real inconvenient truth is that the modern journalist has to be all things to all people, covering the full gamut of human life – chips and all.”