The public is growing impatient with Scottish Borders Council and its inability to effectively tackle dog fouling across the region.
That is the view of Councillor Watson McAteer (Ind) after being told last week that a report on a new “strategic approach” to address the scourge – announced five weeks ago – has not yet been completed.
“My fellow Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall and I have been calling for action on behalf of our constituents since February and, in my view, it is long overdue,” said Mr McAteer.
He was commenting after last week’s council meeting when he reminded Councillor David Paterson, executive member for environmental services, he had told councillors in October that a report would be presented to council “at the earliest opportunity.”
“Given that five weeks have passed and this now appears to be the earliest opportunity, can you explain why you have been unable to deliver the new strategy and can you provide an indication of when we are likely to have it?” asked Mr McAteer.
Mr Paterson told him: “I understand the negative impact dog fouling has on our communities and it is something that affects everyone.
“This council will tackle it and I recognise it is a key priority for the public.
“Officers are currently considering feedback from elected members of the [ruling] administration on the proposals and will bring a full report to council once these have been finalised.
“This will be at the earliest opportunity, but this issue is so important that time must be taken to consider the best ways to combat the problem. We have to get it right and, hopefully, the public will be happy with the result.”
At present, the local authority encourages Borderers to report incidents online and warns transgressors they will be faced with a £40 fixed penalty notice, rising to £60 if not paid within 28 days.
Back in October, Mr Paterson conceded there were circumstances in which pursuing pet owners for fines was not appropriate, such as where a household was assessed as “vulnerable” and where it was not economically viable for the council.
An indication of the strength of public feeling about dog fouling was evidenced in a recent Police Scotland survey of people in Selkirkshire, who were asked about their policing priorities.
Respondents placed dog fouling as their second most serious concern – ahead of speeding motorists and the misuse of drugs.