Hawick’s streets paved with dog dirt rather than gold, council told

Hawick councillor Stuart Marshall surveying the extent of the dog dirt problem besetting Wellfield.
Hawick councillor Stuart Marshall surveying the extent of the dog dirt problem besetting Wellfield.

Only two penalty tickets for dog fouling were issued in the whole of the Teviotdale and Liddesdale area, including Hawick, over a two-month period, it has been revealed.

That lack of enforcement by contractor 3GS has led to claims that Scottish Border Council’s current policy to tackle dog dirt “is certainly not working”.

Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall paid a visit to the town’s Princes Street this week to see the extent of the problem.

He was confronted by no fewer than 50 piles of dog dirt, posing a health hazard for the largely elderly residents who live there.

The independent councillor said: “It was disappointing to learn this week that only two tickets have been issued within two months for dog fouling within the Teviot and Liddesdale area.

“It is completely disproportionate to the scale of the problem.

“Last week, I was flooded with complaints regarding this menace, and I’m afraid that the current Scottish Borders Council strategy on dog fouling is certainly not working .

“I was asked to visit one block of flats in Princes Street, where I witnessed around 50 pile of the stuff, and the problem along here has got so bad that these elderly people who live in these flats cannot now access their drying greens because of the contamination.

“On Sunday, I was asked to visit Wellfield Road, and, as I arrived, one resident was already picking up three different piles of dog mess inside the communal stairwell of one of the blocks. These residents have simply had enough.

“Even if there is a low level of direct reporting of these offences, the council must surely be aware that its strategy is not working.

“Placing stencils on our footpaths, posters on our street-lighting columns and having two wardens to cover the entire length of the Scottish Borders is certainly not an effective deterrent.

“We are clearly not winning the war on dog fouling.

“Many people believe the two dog wardens employed by the firm give a very poor level of performance.”

Mr Marshall added: “I was horrified to hear in the council chambers this week of an executive member informing us all that Hawick is getting its fair share of good news from the council at the moment and that our footpaths are paved with gold.

“Please let me reassure that member that the footpaths in certain parts of my ward are lined with anything but gold.

“People are sick fed up with this mess, and both landlords and the council seem completely powerless in their approach to tackle this issue, and I think that the time has now come to put our hands up and take a different and much tougher approach.”

Fellow Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson, the authority’s executive member for environmental services, said his department had received no complaints about the performance of the 3GSs enforcement officers, and he promised there would be a “full evaluation” of the current pilot scheme after it ends on Wednesday, May 31.

“The work of the enforcement officers is targeted and based on intelligence held by the council and the provider,” explained Mr Paterson.

“This work is overseen by one of our neighbourhood services managers, who analyses reports on a weekly basis to ensure the resource is used to best effect.”

“Getting accurate and detailed information on offenders is key to enforcement activity and I would urge everyone to provide as much detail as possible when reporting offenders.

“I should also stress that, apart from enforcement, a large part of our strategy includes the education of dog owners and the promotion of responsible dog ownership.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council is continuing to engage with the local community in an effort to get more specific information on dog fouling incidents and would ask members of the public to assist us by contacting www.scotborders.gov.uk/dogfouling or phoning 0300 100 1800.”