MAD Hatter tour guide Alasdair de Voil was hoping to inject a bit of humour into the local elections by covering a tree with fake bank notes, only to fall foul of a po-faced foe: Oxford City Council.
As part of an April Fool’s Day prank, Mr de Voil was trying to promote his Monster Raving Loony party campaign for a city council seat by decorating a tree opposite Carfax tower with dozens of fake notes the size of a £10 to suggest money grew on it.
But after going off to deliver a few more leaflets he returned to find the fake bank notes gone and a city council officer handing him an £80 fine for illegal fly-posting.
The 40-year-old self-styled Mad Hatter said: “I was not gone for a huge amount of time, and I did come back to get rid of it all. I returned to find they had taken it down and confiscated my banner.”
He added: “I said to the council employee: ‘Surely you can understand the context? Do you not have better things to do?’ and he kept saying he was just following the rules.
“It seems a little bit ridiculous and unnecessary. It is frustrating.
“It should have been clear to somebody who looked that this was an April Fool’s Day joke.”
Mr de Voil said he has ‘no intention’ of paying the fine, adding: “I will not pay a fine for something most people would see as a contribution to society. It wasn’t in the way or blocking anyone.”
One of Mr de Voil’s political opponents for the Carfax ward, Green Party candidate Ruthi Brandt, supported him. She said: “It seems like a little bit of an overreaction.”
But deputy mayor Tony Brett, who is contesting the Carfax seat for the Lib Dems, said: “He perhaps ought to know that all April Fool’s jokes should be over by noon.”
Council board member for Cleaner, Greener Oxford John Tanner said: “Fly-posting and littering is no laughing matter and creates a mess even on April Fool’s Day.
“I have every sympathy with Mr de Voil.
“But if we excused him, we’d have to excuse everyone else who stuck up unauthorised posters, dropped a fag end, a crisp packet, or a plastic bottle.
“Fly-posting and litter spoils the look of Oxford and costs the taxpayer to clear up.”