Since SBC wardens were phased out in 2013 Scottish Borders Council stands accused of having pretty much given up on policing dog fouling across the region.
New figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request show that in 2014-15 the council did not issue a single fine for dog fouling. Before that, fines were routinely ignored, with more than half 62% unpaid since 2010/11.
Councils can issue fines for dog fouling of £30, rising to £60 if unpaid. If fines continue to be ignored it can be enforced by going to court, resulting in a £500 fine but Scottish Borders Council has not taken anyone to court to enforce a fine since 2010/11.
Local MSP John Lamont says the figures suggest the council has effectively ‘given up’ on stopping dog fouling through fines, despite receiving hundreds of complaints a year.
Dog fouling is one of the most common causes of complaints to community councils and local politicians and in 2013 Berwickshire two SBC wardens came up with the idea of providing dog owners with free dog waste bags. The WOOFS (Waste Off Our Footpaths) scheme was funded by Berwickshire Community Safety Panel and proved very popular but funding came to an end in October 2015, which could result in more dog mess on Berwickshire streets if owners aren’t willing to buy bags.
John Lamont MSP said: “Dog fouling remains one of the most common causes of complaint amongst residents. Looking at these figures, it is hardly surprising that some people think they can get away with not cleaning up after their pets.
“There is little point in handing out fines if so few are actually paid and none are being enforced in court. The council appears to agree, but instead of stepping up their efforts, they are just not bothering to hand out fines.
“It seems that with the council’s budget being slashed, they have decided this shouldn’t be a priority, but the council needs to get a grip on this issue, it’s a real nuisance for residents but it’s dangerous for children.
“We need to do more to encourage dog owners to behave responsibly, but one way to stamp out this issue would be to hand out more fines and to actually make sure they are being paid. This would make people think twice about leaving their dog’s mess behind.”
Earlier this year Councillor Davie Paterson admitted that Scottish Borders Council hadn’t handed out any dog fouling fines in the last six months, and one letter writer, writing to the paper described that as ”an appalling dereliction of the local authority’s duty”.
Between 2010-2014, 236 fines were issued by SBC - £2860 paid and £4,760 unpaid.