Councillor Renard’s Swindon Advertiser column, 29th June 2017

Councillor David Renard, Leader of the Conucil

One of the issues councillors hear about most often on the doorstep is dog fouling in the borough. Britain is a nation of dog lovers and in the south west, some 28% of the population are estimated to have such a pet.

Of course, most dog owners in Swindon love their pets and behave completely responsibly. But sadly that isn’t always the case, and too often we encounter cases of dog fouling, so now we feel we have to take action.

Dog fouling is unpleasant and has serious health risks for children. Dog waste contains faecal coliform bacteria, known to cause a whole range of illnesses including kidney disorders in humans, and can lead to blindness.

In the last Council year, we received complaints of dog fouling in 100 areas across the Borough with potentially numerous cases in each area, and we have recently launched a consultation on the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), to give the Council new powers to tackle dog fouling.

What do you think about our PSPO to control dog fouling?

The consultation is asking residents for their views on the PSPO which, if approved, would enable us and other partner agencies to issue Fixed Penalty Notices – FPNs -to people who let their dogs foul and then don’t clear up after their pets.

The new PSPO would make the enforcement process simpler – giving council staff and partner organisations the power to issue on-the-spot fines to irresponsible dog owners. The Order includes a ban on dogs in enclosed children’s play parks, with the same penalty available.

The fine would be £100 with a reduction for early payments, and people who refuse to pick up after their dog will be fined and their details recorded. Repeat offenders could face prosecution. FPNs are currently used by half of the councils in the country to tackle the issue of dog fouling.

If agreed, the PSPO will come into effect shortly after the consultation ends around September.

A similar scheme was introduced at Lydiard Park last summer to reduce complaints of this nature.

This isn’t about the Council making money. Dog owners will be given a chance to pick up the mess before a fine is issued. Whilst we don’t want to fine people, we feel this is the only way to make the minority of irresponsible dog owners clean up after their pets.

We want to hear your views

It’s early days still but the response to the Consultation has already been extensive and encouraging. To date, we have received well over 200 responses to the consultation.

So if you’re a Swindon resident who cares about the town, take the chance to respond to the consultation by 18 September 2017 by visiting www.swindon.gov.uk/dogfoulingconsultation