Postcards revealed as new weapon in dog poo battle in Great Yarmouth
16:45 26 January 2013
WISH you were in court? Well dirty dog owners might be thanks to the latest weapon in the war against dog fouling - a seaside postcard.
A zero-tolerance crackdown in the urban heart of Great Yarmouth is encouraging residents to tell on people who fail to pick after their pets via a freepost card being handed out by the council.
Instead of the buxom blondes, double entendres or scenic views that usually bring cheer the postcards depict a footprint covered in dog’s mess and a dog being allowed to do its business.
And the space usually left blank for holiday highlights about the food or weather is asking for anonymous details about mucky culprits at large in the area.
The idea has come from environmental rangers at Great Yarmouth Borough Council keen to find a novel way of getting to grips with the worsening problem that is the cause of much local frustration.
Hundreds of the postcards are being handed out and dropped through letterboxes north of busy Regent Road, where there has been a spike in the number of complaints.
Lee Sutton and Colin Fox whose council wards are affected have put £1000 each of their allocated ward money towards clearing up the problem.
Senior environmental ranger Paul Shucksmith said the seaside postcards were being handed out this week to all members of the public, regardless of whether they had dogs or not.
Backed up by high-visibilty patrols he hoped the crackdown would force a permanent change in behaviour, and that the postcards would encourage people who might otherwise be reluctant to come forward with information.
Rangers will also hand out free bags and stickers, and spread the word about their tough “catch and convict” stance. Their approach is to bypass fixed penalty fines in favour of prosecutions, which deliver a more public message about how seriously the borough deals with offenders and carry a maximum fine of £1000.
Last year 15 people were convicted through the courts with three underway already this year.
He said the idea of the postcards chimed with seaside culture. The aim, he added, was to remind people of their responsibilities and to give them another way to contact the council.
Mr Sutton who represents central and Northgate Ward said there was a growing concern about the mess left by anti-social dog owners not clearing up behind their pets.
Investment of ward money, the allowance each councillor receives to help a project in their ward, will see more patrols by environmental officers twice a day. The rangers will be there to inform and help dog owners but will also be watching for those owners who persistently refuse to clean up after their dogs.
“The majority of dog owners in Great Yarmouth are responsible who clean up after their dog has made a mess,” said Mr Sutton. “Unfortunately a minority leave the pavements soiled. That means everyday events such as the school walk or going to the shops can leave people’s shoes soiled by dog poo– not a pleasant thing to clean up.”
“From talking to residents it is clear that they are not prepared to put up with irresponsible dog owners who allow their pets to foul and the borough council will not hesitate to prosecute the offenders. If found guilty they can be fined up to £1,000.”
The environmental rangers will be talking to dog owners and other members of the public in problem areas such as Palgrave, Alderson, Beaconsfield and Kitchener Roads, Oliver Mews and approaches to schools in the area.
They will be handing out stickers asking dog owners to be more careful and thoughtful, as well as free bags for the collection of dog mess.
“The council supplies bins for the bags to be deposited in,” added Mr Fox, whose council ward includes Yarmouth north. “All we are asking is for owners to take a minute or two to clean up and then use the bins. We know some of the problem areas but if people have more concerns please will they contact senior environmental ranger Paul Shucksmith on 01493 846620.
The councillors are both investing £1,000 of their £2,000 annual ward money. In addition, fellow councillor Marie Field, who also represents Central and Northgate Ward, has used her money to tackle dog fouling and littering. Cllr Field’s budget has also funded an additional bin in the ward which is well used by responsible dog owners.
The extra patrols will continue throughout February.