Changes to dog control orders in Forest Heath are giving communities new opportunities to tackle anti-social dog fouling behaviour.
One of the main complaints to local councils is about the small minority of dog owners who do not clear up after their pets.
A new initiative by Forest Heath District Council is being introduced to help keep spaces open to the public, such as sports pitches, playgrounds and parks, free of dog mess which is not only unpleasant but can spread disease or be dangerous for children.
From October 1 Public Space Protection Orders are being introduced covering all spaces open to the public across the district. Allowing a dog to foul in an area open to the public without picking it up could result in a Fixed Penalty Notice of £80. If you do not pay the Fixed Penalty Notice then you could be taken to court and fined up to £1,000. In addition, dogs are excluded from some public areas, including play areas and fenced sports pitches during the playing season.
Communities are being asked to pass on details of any fouling incidents they may see for council enforcement officers to follow up. Councillor David Bowman, Forest Heath Cabinet member for Operations said: “Educating on dog fouling has been very effective with the majority of dog and the vast majority of owners responsibly clean up after their dogs. We want to work with them, and other community members to challenge the unacceptable behaviour of those who do not. We believe that some of them know what they are doing is wrong and that letting them know they cannot get away with it may be enough to make them change.
“So we are asking residents to pass on details of any incidents you may see, directly to us on line using the ‘Report It’ tool on our home page www.westsuffolk.gov.uk”
Or it may be that you belong to a good community and want to tackle any hot spots at a local level. We have also produced a toolkit that includes a report form and are inviting as many community organisations as possible to download it from our website www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/dogfouling and use it to provide information for our enforcement officers to follow up.
The information provided is treated as confidential and will never be shared without your permission. Please give us as much detail as possible.‘
Community groups and sports organisations are among those who have to deal with the problem at a local level.
Ed Wombwell, Chair of the Yellow Brick Road Residents Association said: “As the main pedestrian and cycle link to the town centre, the Yellow Brick Road is a pleasant corridor through residential area, with green spaces opening off it. Because it is shared by so many people, any dog fouling presents a problem. It is not always possible to point out an accident to a dog owner, so I welcome the quick and simple way it can be reported and followed up.
“We work closely with the council rangers and enforcement officers, making the route an asset for all community users to enjoy and together will shortly be installing 12 new combined litter/dog waste bins. As the vast majority of dog owners know, it is very little trouble to pick up and bag waste can be put in any waste bin and if this can be pointed out, we have a chance of reducing the unpleasantness.’
Jodie Allard, Mini Soccer and Youth Football Development Officer at Suffolk FA, said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Football Foundation, the Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils to ensure that all adult and youth players have the best experience possible when playing football on grass pitches in the local area. We are hopeful that this initiative will have a positive impact on the grassroots game, and help to eradicate issue of dog fouling on grass pitches that members of the football community unfortunately experience.
“It is important that we continue to work closely with all members of the local community to ensure people can play football in a clean and safe environment in Suffolk.”
Sharon Thwaites of the Friends of Aspal Close said: “The responsible dog owners who use our beautiful nature reserve are a very friendly lot, always ready to help out with a spare bag.”
From October 1, the toolkit and full list of areas from which dogs are excluded can be found at www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/dogfouling
Picture above at Aspal Close Local Nature Reserve are Dominic Owner, Forest Heath Enforcement Officer, David Bowman Forest Heath Cabinet member for Operations and local ward member and John Smithson, Forest Heath Ranger and dogs.