Tenfold rise in dog fouling penalties recorded in Mid and East Antrim Borough
Fixed penalties for dog fouling in Mid and East Antrim have increased almost tenfold since the appointment of an enforcement company last year.
Figures presented to the borough council’s Direct Services Committee at a meeting last week show that the number of penalties issued has risen from nine in 2020/21 to 84 in 2021/22.
Enforcement company Wise was appointed by the local authority last April as a pilot scheme to clamp down or dog fouling, littering and fly-tipping in Larne, Carrickfergus and Ballymena areas.
The company is responsible for issuing 72 of the dog fouling fixed penalties of £80 each. The council says that Wise officers are paid an hourly rate and do not receive bonuses. It is understood that there is no additional cost to the ratepayer for the service.
In 2019/20, just three were issued by the council, seven in 2018/19 and eight the previous year.
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 latest figures show that there were 17,157 licences issued to dog owners.
Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly described the fixed penalty increase as “absolutely phenomenal”.
“It is great to hear we are taking action against these people.”
He asked for a breakdown of figures for each electoral area.
He noted that one dog owner was taken to court in December for failing to clear up . The council maintains that every report or complaint received is investigated.
Carrickfergus Alliance Councillor Lauren Gray added: “I have been out with the team. It is great to see this report coming forward.”
She indicated that dog fouling often worsens during winter months.
Knockagh DUP Councillor Marc Collins commented: “It is great to see such an increase.
“There was a time when there was a struggle to enforce payment of fines,” he recalled.
A council officer indicated that the majority is being paid.
Coast Road Alliance Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna stated: “I am absolutely delighted to see this incredible increase. It is working. It is great to see it.”
The local authority says: “The council is committed to reducing statistics around dog fouling across the borough. This remains a priority for council to create and maintain a green, safe and healthy environment for our communities.”
Meanwhile, Mid and East Antrim councillors met behind closed doors in September ahead of a public consultation to discuss a review of dog orders which could see the introduction of further restrictions.
In 2015, controversial proposals to introduce dog control orders within Mid and East Antrim were scrapped after a public consultation announced by the local authority caused a backlash among residents with thousands signing a petition calling for the controversial proposals to be rescinded.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter