Theyâ€™ve tried signs. Theyâ€™ve tried polite notices. Theyâ€™ve tried giving warnings in the press and elsewhere about what would happen if behaviour didnâ€™t change.
None of itâ€™s made any difference.
Bridgend Council has lost patience with irresponsible dog owners. Theyâ€™re set to launch a consultation on introducing new measures to clamp down on dog fouling under powers that are normally used for anti-social behaviour and drunkenness (pdf).
As some of you might remember, a few years ago BCBC introduced control zones for public drinking (Designated Public Place Orders). These powers can also be used to control dogs, though as it wasnâ€™t included last time it has to be addressed separately.
The report says thereâ€™s at least one formal complaint about dog fouling to the council or councillors every day, but this wonâ€™t accurately reflect how serious the problem is as many incidents will go unreported.
Officers say â€œthe Council is required to balance the interests of those in charge of dogs against the interests of those affected by the activities of dogs.â€� So unlike what has been raised by some councillors â€“ notably Cllr. Alex Williams (Ind, Penprysg) â€“ BCBC wonâ€™t ban dogs from playing fields and playgrounds.
The outline proposals are, subject to consultation:
- Dog fouling will be formally banned in all public places (itâ€™s said that â€œpublic placeâ€� will have a very broad definition).
- Dog owners MUST have bags to dispose of dog mess at all times â€“ and actually dispose of it â€“ in any public place.
- Dog owners MUST put a dog on a lead if directed to by â€œan authorised officerâ€�.
- Failure to do either of the above will result in a Â£100 on-the-spot fine.
If youâ€™re already a responsible dog owner, these new rules wonâ€™t affect you. There will also likely be exemptions for assistance dogs, guide dogs and working dogs.
Before you ask, â€œHow will the council enforce this when they havenâ€™t got any money?â€� etc. The report suggests BCBC will hire private contractors to enforce the rules on a cost-neutral basis.
Private contractors arenâ€™t known for messing around when it comes to collecting fines because they have a motive to dish out as many fines as possible. So, if this new regime is introduced and you do happen to get caughtâ€¦.youâ€™re going to be shit out of luck.