Dog owners in Norwich could face �80 fouling fines
Dog owners could be hit with an �80 on-the-spot fine for failing to clear up after their pets as city council officials moved to get tough on the problem.
Norwich City Council's cabinet is tomorrow being asked to approve the introduction of a city-wide dog control order which would make it an offence for owners who do not deal with dog fouling.
Dog fouling is the one of the largest source of complaints to the council from the public. But currently the authorities can only rely on persuasion and education and a by-law which can see people fined �5 for failing to clear up their mess.
But City Hall officials said dog fouling was a significant problem across the city, with more than 1,000 complaints being raised about it since 2005.
Half of those are about fouling in the street while a third are linked to problems on housing land.
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However the cabinet is not being asked to introduce a broader order which would also tackle the problems of dangerous dogs running around, despite recent concerns from some residents.
This is because the council received much fewer complaints – 43 cases of dogs running around off their leads, and 155 linked to those being left unattended.
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In a report to councillors Adrian Akester, head of citywide services, said: 'The adoption of the dog control order will significantly assist the council through its frontline teams to be more effective in dealing with the issue.
'The number of reports received by the council about dog faeces shows our communities consider this to be an issue where the council needs to balance the interests of those in charge of dogs against the interests of those affected by the activities of dogs.
'Although the council will continue to promote educational events, the existing by-law requiring dog owners to clean up after their pets is not a sufficient deterrent.
'The introduction of a dog control order requiring dog owners to remove dog faeces will give broader powers to the council to address the current problems within the city.'
Only blind people with guide dogs and dog owners with physical disabilities would be exempt from punishment under the proposed order, while people paying early would see their fine reduced to �60.
Geoff Lowe, chairman of the Norwich Tenants CityWide Board welcomed the clampdown.
'It's something we probably get the highest number of complaints about from across the city,' Mr Lowe said. 'I would love the city council to do something. People complain that it's a mess and they are tired of walking in it.'
But Julian Foster, chairman of the Central Norwich Citizen's Forum and also the city centre safer neighbourhood partnership, said there was little evidence that dog fouling was a problem in the city centre.
'I've never once had anyone complain about it,' he said.
'There are dogs in the city centre, but not that many and I suspect it's more of a problem in the suburbs. It does seem a bit heavy going to me and I tend to feel it's a bit draconian.'
Earlier this month City Hall faced calls from Norwich South MP Simon Wright to impose a dog control order in the West Pottergate area to combat aggressive dogs roaming off the lead.
Meanwhile in April dozens of people joined a protest walk from Paragon Place to Douro Place, near Dereham Road, to highlight the number of pets killed as a result of dog owners not keeping their animals under control.
At the time, councillor Victoria MacDonald of Lakenham ward said she was working to get special measures put in place to deter irresponsible dog owners.
She said: 'I have asked officers at City Hall to look at how we can tackle irresponsible dog owners and dog fouling in the city.
'We cannot employ 20 new dog wardens because of the cuts, but we can look to see what we can do with the staff we already have.'
Dog mess is an issue outside the city too. Problems with dog mess in Hethersett is one of the topics due to be covered by a meeting of the North River Valley safer neighbourhoods action panel in Hethersett Methodist Church Hall tonight.
And last year Yarmouth Borough Council had its largest ever clampdown on dog mess, which saw five people taken to court and handed out total fines of �405.
Is your area blighted by dog fouling? Contact reporter Shaun Lowthorpe on 01603 772471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.