No fines for dog fouling issued for three years by St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils
- Credit: Archant
St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils have been criticised after it was revealed neither has issued a fine for dog fouling over the last three years.
The lack of penalties has led to claims that inconsiderate owners are being let off.
Ernie Broom, of Bury St Edmunds’ Howard estate where dog fouling has been an issue on playing fields, has called for the councils to “fine heavily and set an example so people think twice before doing it”.
He believes the councils need to take a more proactive approach, like Barking and Dagenham which is poised to become the first council in the UK to use DNA testing to catch owners who fail to clear up after their dogs.
Figures provided by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council show no Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) have been issued by either authority for dog fouling over the last three years.
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A spokesman said the councils, which have not employed a dog warden for more than five years, provide dog and litter bins, put up signage and educate people to act responsibly rather than issuing fines.
However, figures showed the councils have issued some fines for littering over the past few years.
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Mr Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants (HEART), said: “If they prosecute and make an example of one or two people for not picking up dog litter I think it would make a good example and act as a deterrent.
“It’s against the law so they have got to enforce it. I do really believe the county as a whole has got to work together [on this issue].”
He added: “At the end of the day we are not knocking dog owners. The majority of them are responsible.”
Football coach Mark Stiff has been fighting for fencing around football pitches on the Howard estate due to the problem of dog mess.
He said: “Surely you cannot have these rules and not implement them? The health and safety of the kids and everybody is at risk.”
There is a flat rate £50 fine for dog fouling, while for littering it is £80 reduced to £60 if paid within 10 days.
Green borough councillor Julia Wakelam believes the fine for dog fouling is too low considering the risk to people’s health, but she also feels people should be educated so they realise not picking up after their dog is unacceptable behaviour.
The council spokesman said: “We appreciate that dog mess is an issue and we can carry out enforcement if a community provides sufficient information as to the offender’s name, and where and when they tend to walk their dog.
“Our waste services staff do respond to concerns raised by residents and patrol hot spot areas. While no-one has been caught and fined, our staff have handed out dog waste bags, written to residents suspected of failing to pick after their dog, and have put up extra signs as a result.”
He said when dog wardens were employed, the councils only issued a handful of fines “as catching a dog walker in the act of not picking up after his or her dog is quite difficult”.
The police also have powers to issue fines for littering and dog fouling.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council issued 11 fines for littering in 2014/15, while the number was six for Forest Heath, compared to five and three fines respectively the year before.