It will be the end of the month before dog wardens begin patrolling the region, Scottish Borders Council admitted this week.
That’s despite the local authority telling this newspaper in March that two wardens, who will form part of the council’s new dog-fouling strategy, would be appointed between mid-April and early May.
News of the delay has angered Councillors Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer, both of whom wrote to Philip Barr, the council’s deputy chief executive, back in February 2015 to demand action on dog fouling after we broke the story of the authority’s failure to hand out any fixed penalties in the preceding six-month period.
Councillor Marshall said people in Hawick were telling him they had had enough of wading through piles of dog dirt. He continued: “I attended areas in the town during the past week where the actions of inconsiderate dog owners were plain for all to see.
“A further delay to deploying dog wardens will only make matters worse, and I will be seeking some reassurance and an explanation from the council.”
Councillor McAteer said: “Hawick has been shouting loud for the dog wardens, and it is disappointing that they are not on the ground tackling this blight to our town.
“While it was always going to take time to introduce a new dog-fouling strategy, unfortunately, in the meantime, those who couldn’t care less are happily getting away with letting their dogs foul in every street in Hawick.”
A council spokesman told us that the two enforcement officers were expected to be in post by the end of this month.
Alluding to the delay, the spokesman said the contract had to be signed with the external company, then it had to go through the usual process of advertising the jobs and holding interviews.
The spokesman added: “We are currently collating information on areas where dog fouling is a problem.
“This has included a survey of blackspots which saw over 500 responses received, with both Burnfoot and Mansfield area named alongside a number of other locations across the Borders.
“This information will be used to help the enforcement officers target problem areas and catch culprits, who now face an £80 fine.”
Meanwhile, a local nursery manager has blasted selfish dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets.
Wendy Scott, of Mansfield Nursery, which has around 75 children on its books, said there were four large piles of dog dirt outside the Mansfield Road facility on Tuesday morning. She went on: “I’m astounded that people let their dogs do their business at the gate of a nursery.
“It took me over 20 minutes to scrub and wash the pavement ready for the children, instead of setting up the toys and getting the playrooms ready. I wonder how the dog owners would feel if that mess was left at their front door?”
Councillor Marshall said he had asked the council’s neighbourhood services to hose down the pavement outside the nursery, and he highlighted two other dog dirt-hit areas, Leishman Place and Queens Drive in Burnfoot, which also had to be cleaned up by the council this week.
“The sooner that these wardens are active in our town, armed with their ticket books, the better,” he added.