Councillors get pledge on dog menace

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Scottish Borders Council is to review its strategy on dog fouling following a letter from two Hawick councillors.

Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall wrote to SBC’s deputy chief executive last month asking for a rethink on how the council deals with dog fouling.

And this week, a delighted Mr McAteer told the Hawick News: “Stuart Marshall and I are encouraged with the council’s response to our request for a more effective strategy to deal with the plague of dog fouling in Hawick.”

And Mr McAteer added that he has spoken to council officials who, he says, are taking their concerns on board.

He added: “We have been advised that council officers will examine how other local authorities deal with this menace and plan to work with schools, community councils and other groups to find a more effective approach.

“We are hopeful that any revised strategy will target education and enforcement, with the council vigorously pursuing those that deliberately fail to pay penalties.”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “The council is currently investigating what other local authorities in Scotland are doing to tackle dog fouling and is identifying best practices across the country.

“Going forward, a number of proposals will be developed for consideration, with two of the key principles being education and prevention.”

A Freedom of Information request lodged by Councillor McAteer in May last year showed that in the previous two years only 12 of 68 fixed penalty notices in Hawick had been paid, and a recent request for dog fouling statistics by the Hawick News revealed that in the last six months no fixed penalties had been issued for dog fouling in the town.

And this, according to Councillor McAteer, is a huge part of the problem.

He said: “Any new strategy must contain an absolute commitment to pursue those that don’t pay fixed penalty notices.

“Recent examination of the statistics confirm that in recent months very few, if any, tickets have been issued, and where they have and not been paid, the culprits have escaped any form of justice – a situation hardly likely to prevent reoffending.”

At Tuesday’s Area Forum in Hawick Town Hall, Councillor Davie Paterson was calling for huge increases in fines for those who break the dog fouling laws.

The Hawick News emailed Councillor Paterson and asked his to elabortate and he replied: “I think we should hit people were it hurts.

“I’m not particularly bothered if they claim they can’t afford to pay it – if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime.

“I think failing to clean up after your dog is a crime against all the decent law-abiding citizens in the town, most of whom obey and respect the laws of society. But some thoughtless individuals forget that owning a dog means you are responsible for cleaning up after it.”