SBC: ‘We can’t win war on our own’

Not enough dog owners are cleaning up after their pets.
Not enough dog owners are cleaning up after their pets.

Scottish Borders Council has admitted it is unable to win the battle against irresponsible dog owners on its own.

A report on the effectiveness of its responsible dog ownership strategy, which was launched in February 2016 and aims to change people’s behaviour to dog fouling and remind owners of their social and legal responsibilities, is being prepared.

A spokesman for the council said a number of initiatives had been launched, such as the Green Dog Walker Scheme, a dog wellbeing day, poster campaigns and several microchipping events.

He added: “Consultation with members of the public on the strategy has shown the majority believe the council is doing more to tackle this problem. At the same time, we recognise dog fouling remains an issue, but it is one which cannot be solely tackled by the council, particularly when demand on public services is increasing while budgets are being squeezed.”

Stuart Marshall, councillor for Hawick and Hermitage, said: “It is quite clear from these figures that the current war on dog fouling has been lost.”

Mr Marshall added: “To be honest this was a strategy that belonged firmly at the door of the previous ruling administration.”

The council contracted specialist enforcers 3GS in the summer of 2016 to tackle the issue of dog fouling and litter.

However, only 14 fixed penalty notices have been issued by the two officers for dog fouling – and only six of these have been paid.

The firm also issued 113 tickets to people who were caught dropping cigarette butts.

Mr Marshall added: “When you see 113 tickets issued for dropping cigarette ends and with half of the fines not paid, then clearly this current strategy was never going to succeed.

“It appears more time has been afforded to challenging those who choose to smoke, rather than those who allow their dogs to create a public health issue.

“It’s quite a ridiculous situation, and whilst I have been assured that the council is intending bringing an update on the current strategy before us, it is, however, the job of this current administration, of which I am currently a member, to implement measures that will at least attempt to improve on the current situation .

“Otherwise, I see no sight in end when trying to realistically resolve a horrible public health issue.”

Of the 3GS pilot project, the spokesman for SBC added: “The council carried out a series of communications to promote the strategy, including encouraging people to report dog fouling blackspots, hence the rise in the number of reports received in 2016.

“Officers are now collating all the information from the enforcement pilot project and assessed potential future options, which will be included in a council report on the strategy which is due to be discussed by councillors in early 2018.

“Members of the public can visit www.scotborders.gov.uk/dogfouling or phone 0300 100 1800 for further information, to request posters/stencils, join the Green Dog Walker scheme or anonymously report a dog fouling issue.”