Most people have been there, arrived home to find that you’ve carried into the house a ‘little gift’ on your shoe, and not of the good kind.
Under an FOI request, FUSE FM Ballymoney can reveal that records held by the Causeway Coast & Glens Council show that since 1st April 2015 not one single fine has been issued for dog fouling in the area previously known as ‘Ballymoney Borough Council’, despite having received a large number of complains in previous years and a dog warden on staff.
Dog fouling has been an ongoing issue in Ballymoney, as it is in other towns, with what many describe as inconsiderate owners not picking up after their dogs. The problems are not contained to simply grass or rural areas where many dogs are walked or let of their leads but indeed dog fouling occurs in public areas like footpaths, parks and even outside schools.
A growing concern is dog owners who do clean up after their dog only to walk a few steps, discarding the waste bag on the ground. Not only a health issue but a littler problem on top of that.
As we have mentioned the issue of dog fouling is an ongoing issue and far from new so you would expect the problem to have been dissuced and tacked in the past, and you would be right.
At the begining of March 2016 the council issued a public statement to remind dog owners of their ‘ZERO TOLERANCE’ policy on dog fouling in what they described as an ‘increase’ in dog fouling incidents in the Borough.
They reminded dog owners that any person detected failing to clean up after their dog would recieve a fixed penalty on the spot. The Director of Enviromental Services, Aidan McPeake at the time said;
“The problem of dog fouling in our Borough is one of the most unacceptable health issues raised by residents and elected members. It is not only unsightly but generates a public health risk to those who come into contact with it.”
Just over a month later in April 2016 the then Mayor, Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan launched a Dog Fouling campaigh, ‘Don’t give dogs a bad name, Bag it and Bin it’ .
Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan reminded dog owners of their responsability to pick up after their dog. Launching the campaign at the time, she said;
“It is important not only to bag dog foul but also to place it in any Council bin, or take it home, and not to leave the bag on the ground. If members of the public leave dog foul or a bag with dog foul behind they will be subject to a fixed penalty of £80. I encourage all residents and visitors to the Borough to clean up after their dog to keep the Borough clean of dog foul for everyone.”
At that time the council had identified areas of concern and within Ballymoney council, identifying North Road & Kilraughts Road. The public as part of this campaign were encouraged to report dog fouling by contacting the council which they did as you will see below.
There are many problem areas within the town but FUSE FM Ballymoney has identifies several which cause concern.
Several years ago after a long campaign Glebeside Community Association had installed a new play park in the estate along with a fitness area, MUGA, football pitch and changing facilities. This has become a popular play area with the children in the estate and has even attracted others from outside the estate.
Unfortunately dog fouling has been a big issue in the park and surround area as it is also popular with dog walkers. Several of these dog owners continue to let their dogs foul without picking up after. The community association have used social media and campaigned along with and lobbied local representatives to have signs erected. This is ongoing but despite the efforts so far the fouling continues.
A spokes person for Glebeside Community Association has spoken on the issue.
“This is totally unacceptable that anybody, let alone someone from our own community, thinks it’s acceptable in an area especially a park with kids playing that they let their dog foul and fail to pick up after them. The community association is trying to tackle this issue within our resources but believe that more could be done by those with responsibilities for enforcement as very little seems to have been done to date.”
Glebeside estate is not unique in this issue. Other areas that were identified by ourselves were Riverside Park, Kilraughts Road (town side), Newal Road just to name a few.
One of the more concerning hot spots for dog fouling is Main Street. FUSE FM Ballymoney spoke to one retailer (who didn’t want to be identified) who said;
“one several occasions this year I have come to open the shop first thing in the morning and before I’ve even had a chance to turn on the shop lights, I’ve had to lift dog mess parked right outside the shop. I’m totally convinced its the same early morning dog walker. Its a total disgrace, these people shouldn’t be allowed dogs!”
During one afternoon over the course of an hour at Riverside Park in the town, FUSE FM Ballymoney during a test observed 3 dog walkers knowingly let their dogs foul without picking up after them. This begs the question why more dog fouling incidents are not caught and indeed penalty notices issued given how easy dog CAN be caught in the act.
FUSE FM Ballymoney asked the question as to the number of dog wardens that work in the Ballymoney area. Council confirmed that there was currently 1 full time ‘Enviromental Warden’ who was allocated to the area that would have been known as Ballymoney Borough Council. FUSE FM also asked as to the specifics of their job. Of thoses listed, one of their duties was, ‘Taking approprate enforcement action in relation to offences under the Dog (NI) order 1983, Litter (NI) Order 1994’.
Dispite a ‘ZERO TOLLERANCE’ policy by the council , ZERO fines have been issued for dog fouling in the Ballymoney area. This is despite a large number of complaints being recieved from 1st April 2015 for the Ballymoney area alone.
Under the same FOI that revealed that 0 fines were issued since 1st April 2015, the following number complaints were recieved.
1st April 2015 – 31st March 2016 63 complaints
1st April 2016 – 31st March 2017 69 complaints
1st April 2017 – 31st March 2018 33 complaints
1st April 2018 – 24th May 2018 1 complaints
The last full financial year did see a reduction in complaints compared to the previous year by over half and without any more information it can only be assumed as to the reason for this drop. Despite the drop in complaints dog fouling remains an issue.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
FUSE FM Ballymoney asked the local Councillors for Ballymoney for their comments.
As of the posting of this article, none of the councillors have made comment other than the couple who acknowledged receiving and or said they would reply.
FUSE FM also reached out to council for a comment but haven’t yet received one.
Since the submission of the FOI, the council has issued a public notice looking for the general public views on the proposed, ‘The Fouling of Land by Dogs (Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council) Order 2018′. This will replace the dog fouling provision of Article 4 of the Litter (NI) Order 1994 which is being repealed.
Full details can be found here: https://www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk/news/dog-control-orders