Council pledges to crack down on Melton dog fouling offenders

Councilllors have pledged to crack down on people who allow their dogs to foul in Melton amid escalating public anger about the issue.
Local resident Frank Duckworth with fellow dog fouling campaigners and Melton councillor Alan Pearson. EMN-170313-120840001Local resident Frank Duckworth with fellow dog fouling campaigners and Melton councillor Alan Pearson. EMN-170313-120840001
Local resident Frank Duckworth with fellow dog fouling campaigners and Melton councillor Alan Pearson. EMN-170313-120840001

The public gallery was packed on Monday night as members of the town area committee agreed to launch a campaign to clean up the town.

They will spend £7,000 on a one-off purge of dog mess and signs to warn offenders about the penalties, an environmental champion is to be appointed to oversee the problem and an initiative set up to educate owners about the issues and dangers of allowing it to happen.

Councillor Alan Pearson, who suggested the course of action, told the meeting it was time to get tough after it emerged that no-one had been prosecuted for letting a pet foul the pavement and footpaths in Melton.

He said: “What I have seen is just not good enough - this is our town and we have to get real about this issue.

“Children have started making up songs about the dog poo in Melton and they joke about it because there is so much of it around the town.”

He added: “We need to be proactive about this issue, not reactive. There needs to be a figurehead for it because residents tell me they don’t know who to go to talk about it.

“And long term we need to educate people that it will not be tolerated, it’s not good for public health, it’s not good for children and it’s not good for Melton.”

Councillor John Illingworth told the meeting he hoped there were enough people brave enough to report offenders and gather sufficient evidence against them.

“The inconsiderate people who cause this nuisance need to be told in no uncertain terms that we will enforce the law on dog fouling,” he said.

“This is not a threat, it’s a statement. There are a chunk of people who do it who we can educate about it and we have got to get to them first.”

Council officers had recommended that members shelve the possibility of establishing Public Spaces Protection Orders - areas where dog fouling is deemed an offence and punishable by a fixed penalty notice of £75 - because of a lack of resources to enforce them. But it was decided to retain the measure as an option.

Councillor Pat Cumbers told colleagues that action was long overdue: “Dog fouling has been a problem here for decades.

“We’ve spent a lot of money on it but not one person has been prosecuted.”

A report which went before the committee stated that it cost the council between £50 and £80 to clear up individual episodes of dog mess and that they paid £56 for each poster warning owners about the penalties of allowing their pets to do it.

Councillor Tina Culley suggested there were much cheaper alternatives available for posters and metal signs which would save the council money.

She said the authority should also consider handing out free dog poo bags to owners to encourage them to deposit mess in bins.

The council should adopt a cost-effective response to the issue, according to the leader, Councillor Pam Posnett.

She told the meeting it might be worth giving the council’s enforcement officers, who monitor car parking and littering offences, the responsibility to fine dog fouling offenders as well.

Councillor Posnett said: “We want this problem to go away but we don’t have unlimited amounts of money to throw at the problem.”

It was agreed that officers would come up with a costed plan to tackle dog fouling based on the recommendations of Councillor Pearson and report back to the committee.

After the meeting, Chris Fisher, who has collected more than 200 signatures on a petition calling for more action to tackle dog fouling offenders, said he was pleased with the outcome of the council meeting.

He said: “They weren’t aware of how big an issue this is to a lot of people but they have seen, with the help of social media and local media, how angry and upset people are.

“It was all very positive, we felt, and we look forward to seeing action being taken and our town being cleaner.”