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Student who prompted daily’s ‘chick-bait’ story fined for littering

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.

Gloucs chicken

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.”

12 comments

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  • April 18, 2016 at 7:48 am
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    We have a KFC and Pizza Hut two miles from us. Their litter is the scourge of the countryside. I am really glad this student has been fined.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 9:35 am
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    In paragraph 3, you mention the bag being ‘on the floor’. You mean ground. Simple test: floor is indoors; ground outdoors. You’ll get the hang of it when you’ve been doing it a while.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 11:49 am
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    Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s mountain of tax-free Krugerrands are ‘a personal matter’. The barmy world of modern Britain. Goose, common etc.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 1:24 pm
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    Bob – you may have a point, but is there any need to be so pompous?

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  • April 18, 2016 at 4:52 pm
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    Roy Challis (whoever): What do you mean I MAY have a point? I DO have a point; it’s a simple definition. Pompous – moi? No, I’m just on a seemingly one-man crusade to save both English grammar and British journalistic standards. You should wish me luck.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 5:36 pm
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    Bob: Good luck with your crusade. To help you out, it’s ‘pretentious – moi’, not ‘pompous – moi’.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 7:08 pm
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    Go Bob!
    I spotted the bad, as in bad rather than good, use of the word floor sat, as in currently sitting, here at my desk in an office under lockdown, or rather locked up. And I want to go home as I am well sick, as in nauseous rather than trendily cool – though I do also have cold sweats – or should that be having cold sweats?

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  • April 18, 2016 at 9:04 pm
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    Congrats to the paper for making such a meal of a totally uninteresting story. Congrats also to this website for promoting it!

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  • April 19, 2016 at 11:10 am
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    I take it the Echo will pay the fine. If I were the student I’d plead not guilty.
    Oh, and we’ll said, Bob. You have obvious grounds for complaint. Go on, floor the opposition.

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  • April 20, 2016 at 2:49 pm
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    I know it’s: “Pretentious? Moi” not “Pompous? Moi.” It was my attempt @ humour as I was being accused of being pompous, not of being pretentious. Ah, well once u have 2 explain a joke . . .

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