Send photos, video and news by texting GUARDIAN SERIES to 80360 (cost 10p), or email us
Waltham Forest Council is increasing efforts to tackle dog mess in public
As part of major bid to clean up the streets, Waltham Forest Council has placed a sharper focus on dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets.
The Guardian this morning joined council's dog enforcement team on patrol in Memorial Park, off Chingford Mount Road, to find out more about its work.
Led by manager Mandy Thompson, the four full-time members of the team not only take action against irresponsible owners, using the power to issue £80 on-the-spot fines, but also hope to act as a visual deterrent and raise awareness.
A Freedom of Information disclosure earlier this month revealed that, since 2010, only seven fines had been issued for dog fouling.
But Ms Thompson said the team’s goal was not to exclusively fine offenders, but to also change behaviour by discussing the issue with owners and sharing information.
In Memorial Park, a dog owner talked of an “unofficial dog club” in Chase Lane Park, where dog owners allegedly don’t clear up after their dogs if they’re more than 20 feet away.
“We rely on intelligence,” Ms Thompson said.
“It’s very hard to catch someone in the act, but I will make sure the team get there and speak to people.
“You could always do with more feet on the ground, but the aim is for everybody to work together and in the main it works quite well.”
Beatrice Salmon, 84, of Ainslie Wood Road, said she uses Memorial Park twice daily and had never seen a dog out of order.
“Everybody picks up their mess but a small number of people can ruin it for everyone,” she said.
And research shows complaints of dog fouling have dropped each year since 2010.
Deputy council leader and cabinet member for environment, Clyde Loakes, said: “We know that the vast majority of dog owners take their responsibility to bag their dog’s waste seriously.
"The ‘Don’t mess with Waltham Forest’ campaign aims to encourage everyone to take responsibility for their dogs. It’s not pleasant to come across dog mess in the street or in our parks and it doesn’t take much to pick up after your dog.
"We need to engender a change of culture in those people that are still either living in the past, or in some way believe themselves to be above the law.
"We live in one of the greenest boroughs in London and this is a great place to own a dog and it is down to all of us to treat our wonderful parks and open spaces with respect.”
But Fabien Ho, of dog owner group Waltham Forest 4 Dogs, said the statistics for 2013 were on track to rise again and that monthly complaints are, on average, already higher this year.
"Councillor Loakes can refute claims and say the dog team is not failing," he said.
"But the numbers would say differently."
"Other boroughs on average manage to issue the same number of fines a month that Waltham Forest has in three years."
The dog enforcement team also collects strays, enforces warrants, seizes banned breeds and carries out free micro-chipping.
Comments are closed on this article.