Dog fouling is hot topic at Harleston’s annual town meeting

Dog fouling was a hot topic at an annual town meeting in south Norfolk on Wednesday.

About 40 people attended the meeting at the leisure centre in Harleston, including many dog owners who feared that dogs might be banned from the recreation ground.

Town council chairman Roger Plant said: 'Of all nuisances this is the most insidious, unsavory and offensive public nuisance there is within a community. It is particularly offensive within children's/public play areas and footpaths. Dog faeces are also very dangerous to children.

'My one desire is to see all dog owners in Harleston act responsibly without any 'dog warden' enforcement. However, it might come to that at a future stage if the problem cannot be resolved and continues to escalate.'

He added that it was a tiny minority of dog owners who did not clear up behind their pets.

Beat manager PC Tim Tyler said the issue had been made a policing priority at the recent neighbourhood meeting, adding: 'I have made it quite clear that dog fouling is not acceptable. There is no excuse for it.'

He said if anyone spots dog fouling and all they know is that 'it is a white dog called Butch', that would probably be enough for him to track down the owner.

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Town clerk Margot Harbour said there had been a big increase in the number of complaints about dog fouling, especially in Briar Road, Mendham Lane and on the recreation ground.

She added that there were 20 dog litter bins in Harleston, five of them on the recreation area, as well as posters urging people to clear up after their animals, but there was little else the council could do.

'Banning dogs is not that simple,' she said, adding: 'It would also be very unfair to punish responsible dog-owners because of the actions of a tiny minority.'

Bylaws could be used but only to force owners to keep their dogs on leads, and then that would have to be enforced – and prosecution costs money. Dog control orders need months of consultation, using up limited council time and resources.

The traffic-light system used at Gaymers Meadow in Attleborough – which only allows dogs in certain areas – was voluntary and unlikely to work in a wide open area like Harleston's recreation ground.

One dog owner suggested that dog walkers could carry a spare bag in their pocket and offer it to anyone seen allowing their dog to foul.

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