Poll: Babergh council could do stake-out to catch irresponsible dog owners who refuse to pick up mess
TOWN councils in the Babergh area are taking alternative measures to prevent dog fouling after it emerged that the district council has issued just three fines for the offence in three years.
As an alternative to prosecution, Babergh can issue a fixed penalty fine of £50 to people who allow their dogs to foul in public places. But figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request show that the authority issued just two fines in 2009 and one in 2011.
Staff at Hadleigh and Sudbury town councils have criticised the system for reporting offenders and have accused the council of “rarely following up” on reported cases.
Hadleigh has experienced fouling problems in Corks Lane – the home of Babergh’s council offices – in the town’s cemetery and in Layham Road. In Sudbury, a recent hotspot has been a walkway that joins Blackfriars estate with Quay Lane.
Hadleigh town clerk Carol Bailey said the law on dog fouling was complicated, adding: “It’s a bit of a farce because you have to catch dog-owners in the act which is almost impossible. The current fining system seems to be one that you can’t police, so it simply isn’t working. We have invested in dog poo bins but these are not being used as much as we’d like. I think it is more about educating dog owners and we have found that installing signs has had an affect.”
Sudbury warden Bradley Smith, who is studying for an accreditation to give him limited enforcement powers, described the situation as frustrating, adding: “It is such a big problem and we are finding it a challenge to get Babergh to do anything about it. We can do a stake-out to catch dog-owners in the act, but we haven’t got the power to issue a fine or follow a person home to get an address. Babergh seems reluctant to follow cases up or enforce penalties.”
A Babergh spokeman said they could only serve a fixed penalty notice if they had evidence that would stand up in a court.
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He added: “We do carry out random patrols in favoured dog walking locations and at common walking times but these have largely failed to catch perpetrators because they do it when no one is looking. We do act on any reliable, credible evidence.”