Mid and East Antrim hotline proposed in response to dog fouling

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A hotline to report dog fouling was proposed at part of a motion to tackle the ongoing issue, at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on Monday evening.

The motion put forward by Carrickfergus Castle Alderman Billy Ashe MBE also proposed the hours of wardens be extended to include night time and early morning patrol of hotspot areas.

Speaking at a council meeting in The Braid, Ballymena, Ald Ashe named Marine Highway, Carrickfergus and Carrickfergus Marina as “hotspots”.

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He said his patience and that of constituents has been “exhausted” and nobody appears to be “taking the issue seriously or care”.

Advice for dog walkers.Advice for dog walkers.
Advice for dog walkers.

He went on to say he believes there has been no long-term improvement and instead the issue is “getting worse” suggesting that the council is “not facing up to the problem”.

“I believe our dog wardens do a fantastic job. Their job is more complex than many believe.

“The issue of dog fouling is not a pleasant subject but one with which the council has not got to grips since Mid and East Antrim came into existence. I believe from Covid, the issue has got worse.”

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He went on to say he would have expected the private company contracted by the council to tackle littering and dog fouling to have made a “huge impact” on this issue.

Overflowing dog foul wasteOverflowing dog foul waste
Overflowing dog foul waste

Fixed penalties

Fixed penalties for dog fouling in Mid and East Antrim have increased almost ten-fold since the appointment of enforcement company Waste Investigations Support and Enforcement (WISE) in April 2021, rising from nine in 2020/21 to 84 in 2021/22.

WISE has been given powers to issue fixed penalty notices for littering and dog fouling in “hotspot areas” across Mid and East Antrim. Anyone observed failing to pick up after their dogs or dropping litter will be issued with an on the spot £80 fixed penalty notice.

Ald Ashe added: “I am asking officers to bring forward a strategy that we can enforce and help to eradicate this health hazard and social problem once and for all.”

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The motion was seconded by Knockagh Ulster Unionist Councillor Andrew Wilson who reported dog fouling in the Hillview area of Carrick and local parks. He noted it is an issue about which every member is contacted.

“It is the small minority that is giving the majority a bad name.”

He also pointed out a Carrick schoolboy had lost his sight in one eye after coming into contact with dog faeces infected with the rare parasite Toxocara canis.

Larne Lough DUP Ald Paul Reid agreed every elected member has had complaints about dog fouling.

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“In Larne Cemetery, there will be dog fouling not just on driveways but on loved ones’ graves. We should be able to empower cemetery staff, park staff to issue penalties.”

Top Priority

Ballymena Alliance Cllr John Hyland commented: “There is a serious issue with dog fouling and it is a top priority for residents.”

In an online post after the meeting, he added: “Whilst council look to produce a strategy on how to address this ongoing issue, please remember you can report any instances of dog fouling to our environmental health and enforcement agencies online.”

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council issued 71 fixed penalties for dog fouling during the first six months of 2022. There were 199 complaints about dog fouling in the borough in 2021/22; 374 in 2020/21; 314 in 2019/20 and 351 in 2018/19.

The local authority is due to carry out a public consultation on dog control orders when the community will have a chance to have a say.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.