New Borders wardens have only handed out one fine for dog fouling in three months
Two wardens working for the private firm hired by Scottish Borders Council to clamp down on dog fouling have handed out just one Â£80 fine for the offence since their patrols began in May.
However, the enforcing duo have issued 32 fixed-penalty notices for a variety of unspecified litter transgressions.
Those figures were revealed at last week’s full council meeting by Hawick and Hermitage councillor David Paterson, the authority’s executive member for environmental services.
He had been asked by Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall for a progress report on the council’s 12-month pilot arrangement with 3GS.
Under that deal, the Hampshire-based company is empowered to issue fines for dog fouling, littering and fly-tipping – and to keep the proceeds.
Mr Paterson said a “robust collection process” was in place and that around half of the 33 fines issued so far by wardens Tony Garrick and Paul Marenghi had now been paid.
“The two 3GS officers are working a very flexible shift pattern incorporating early starts and late finishes, depending on the nature of complaints received,” he said.
“They are also working at weekends, as well as attending community events to raise the profile of their work.
“All towns and most villages are subject to patrols.
“Resources are targeted using information obtained from the public.
“It’s important to recognise that this is only one aspect of the council’s approach to tackling dog fouling and irresponsible dog ownership.
“A number of other measures are being taken which include the use of stencils, a new anti-dog fouling campaign and the introduction of the new green dog walkers scheme.
“It is still very early days for this pilot, but the officers are being well received by our communities and, overall, I consider this to be a very positive start.”
In his one permitted follow-up question, Mr Marshall asked Mr Paterson if he genuinely believed that the pilot scheme was a success.
Mr Paterson replied: “The situation is improving in some areas and it’s a work in progress, but yes I do.”
After the meeting, Mr Marshall told the Southern: “I think the Borders public will be extremely disappointed at these figures.
“While I suppose two wardens are better than none, I can honestly say that, as far as my ward is concerned, there doesn’t seem to have been any improvement at all.
“Less than three tickets a week and only one for dog fouling in over three months across the entire region hardly makes impressive reading.
“Fining people for dropping cigarette ends is all well and good, and I certainly don’t condone it, but it does not address the main reason 3GS was brought in – to tackle dog fouling.”
In 2013, as a cost-saving measure, the council withdrew its nine-strong in-house community warden team issuing tickets for dog fouling offences.
In the year that followed, the number of incidents reported to the council hit 385 and in the one after, it rose 16% to 446.