A pensioner who has been feeding Trowbridge’s pigeon population for more than 15 years, causing a headache for civic leaders and businesses, has been fined by magistrates.

Danuta Rogawa, of Langford Road, Trowbridge, will have to pay £250 in court costs and fines after Chippenham magistrates found her guilty of littering by throwing down excessive amounts of bread and grain on November 12, 2008.

Mrs Rogawa had not shown up to court for the hearing on Monday and was convicted in her absence.

Wiltshire Council decided to bring the issue to court after years of trying to persuade Mrs Rogawa not to leave food for the birds, particularly around the Town Bridge area, as they were flocking to the town in their hundreds and causing huge problems for shop owners – both the mess and attracting rats.

The bread and grain was also attracting rats from the River Biss near to where she dropped bread.

Graham Steady, environmental protection team manager at Wiltshire Council, said: “I think it was the right decision for the council to take bearing in mind it has not been the first resort.

“It was certainly not an action we wished to take against this lady and the decision was not taken lightly at all as I have been working on this issue for three-and-a-half years.

“We have spoken to her on a number of occasions, we have written to her in English and in Polish so that she can understand the difficulties we have with the feeding. She was also issued with a fixed penalty notice.

“Hopefully the fines will deter Mrs Rogawa from leaving excessive amounts of food in the town in the future.

Trowbridge Town Council has welcomed the action taken by the unitary authority in prosecuting people for littering by feeding the birds, in a hope it will deter them and improve the town centre.

Town councillor and former mayor Tom James, who has been critical of Mrs Rogawa’s actions over the years, said: “I think the right action has been taken. I don’t think age is a factor in this because it applies to everyone and this has been going on for more than 15 years.

“I am hoping things will go back to normal now that she has been fined.”

Over the years the town council has even debated on several occasions whether to cull the birds, which in 2004 prompted an angry reaction from animal rights activists.

The council employed Guy Merchant, from the Pigeon Control Advisory Service, to help them combat the pigeon flock, which is thought to be in excess of 700.

Mr Merchant advised the council to prosecute persistent feeders, even if they were elderly, calling them “public enemy number one”.