News that only one dog warden is now patrolling the whole of the Borders has caused alarm among Hawick councillors.
Dog-fouling is an issue which regularly tops lists of complaints made to elected representatives by their constituents across the region, and that is very much the case in Hawick.
And that makes the revelation that a single warden now has the task of issuing fixed-penalty notices to dog owners allowing their pets to foul streets across the region all the more troubling for councillors already concerned about the situation.
The move comes after the end of a one-year trial dog-fouling and environmental enforcement scheme, leading to calls for a fresh approach to the problem.
Town honorary provost Watson McAteer, also a councillor for Hawick and Hermitage, said it is “unbelievable” that only a handful of penalty tickets had been issued over the course of the trial period.
He said: “We have just been advised that the dog warden pilot scheme has been concluded and the previous two wardens have been replaced by one to cover the entire Borders.
“Dog-fouling is a significant problem in Hawick, and I will certainly be looking for the council to be proposing a more robust and effective enforcement approach.
“It is quite unbelievable that the previous wardens were only able to issue a handful of tickets over a 12-month period, a situation that must not be repeated.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall said: “It is of great importance that the new ruling administration take on the fact the urgency to have a fresh approach in how we deal with this issue.
“My views have been very public during the last term of the council that the strategy on dog-fouling was clearly not working, and we now need to revisit the entire approach in terms of how many dog wardens we have, where we deploy them and, more importantly, how we can enforce the recovery of the fixed penalties that can be issued.
“At the moment, our town, like many other towns in the Borders, is suffering badly because of this problem, and all of us have a role to play in attempting to address this terrible issue.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull is urging fellow Teries to shop offenders.
He said “It is worrying that the council is going to operate with only one member of staff dedicated to patrolling the whole of the Scottish Borders concentrating on litter and dog-fouling issues.
“It will be interesting to see how the new locality groups handle issues like this and what priority will be given to this serious problem across the Scottish Borders, with hot spots caused by a minority of selfish individuals who have no respect for the community in which they live.
“Hopefully, more members of the public will stand up and be counted and report these individuals to the local contact centres, and the officer can follow up and deal with the facts and pursue these irresponsible individuals.”
A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council, said: “The council agreed to operate a pilot on enforcement with 3GS, the environmental enforcement company, for a period of a year.
“Officers are now evaluating the pilot, and a report will be brought forward in due course to determined the approach going forward.
“In the meantime, continuity arrangements have been put in place.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson believes the key to tackling dog-fouling is educating the public.
He said: “We should continue to try to educate the public to clean up after their pets.
“We should be looking at CCTV, not just for dog-fouling but for other anti-social activities, and work with the Scottish Government to try to find an acceptable solution to an age-old problem.”