Dog-gone it: wait goes on for Hawick fouling strategy

Councillor Davie Paterson
Councillor Davie Paterson

Scottish Borders Council’s new dog fouling strategy faces a further delay after Councillor Davie Paterson asked for the plans to be shared with members in October.

Quizzed over the detail of the new initiative last week by Hawick Community Councillors, Mr Paterson told them: “It will be unveiled at the end of the month.”

The document could now be delayed for several weeks further and a council spokesperson told the Hawick News: “Councillor Paterson, as executive member for environmental services, has asked for proposals to be presented to the administration, in the first instance, during October.”

In a bid to kickstart a new dog fouling battle, Councillors Watson McAteer and Stuart Masrshall wrote to Philip Barr, the council’s deputy chief executive in February this year demanding action following the Hawick News revelations that the council had handed no dog fouling tickets out in the preceeding six-month period.

The pair also met with the council’s neighbourhood services director, Jenni Craig, on May 7 and handed over several suggestions with several suggestionswhich could be included in an effective and workable strategy.

But after several delays there is still no sight of the new strategy and this, according to Councillor McAteer, is frustrating: “I am looking forward to seeing the innovative approach the council take to eradicate what has been stated as a 30-year problem of dog fouling in our town. While Councillor Stuart Marshall and I are seeking a strong education component to drive a much-needed culture change, we also believe that without effective enforcement and adequate penalties it will be another 30 years before we will see the required shift in mindset. This new strategy has been a long time in the making and I hope it works.”

In February 2014 the Hawick News revealed that a Freedom of Information request to the council showed that half of the dog fouling fines issued by SBC since 2010 had not been paid.

And in the same article, written a month before the dog wardens were scrapped to save cash, the council confirmed that it did not chase up the foulers, claiming that many of those fined were on benefits and there was no chance of recovering the cash.

At the time Councillor Paterson was outraged and said: “I am appalled at this, it is a disgrace. The council should be following this up and making an example of those who haven’t paid their fines. Just because someone is on benefits doesn’t place them above the law. I will be talking with council officials about this to see what can be done.”

But the message from Mr Paterson to a recent meeting of Hawick Community Council is vastly different.

When pressed on his admission that the problem had been going on for 30 years, Mr Paterson said he hoped the new council strategy would go a long way to ending the disgusting menace.

But he said the new strategy would focus on education and that there is no hope of the council chasing up fine defaulters: “It is not possible to chase up those who do not pay the fines. The council just does not have the resources to do this. I have in the past written to government ministers asking for the fines to be increased [current fine defaulters can be fined up to £500] but it got little support.”

Twice since 2014 the Hawick News has revealed that Scottish Borders Council has issued no tickets for dog fouling in the town.