Birstall is taking positive action to tackle the problem of dog fouling and dogs off leads after the parish council appointed its first ever enforcement officer.
The parish council, working with Charnwood Borough Council, has employed Darren Bailey to not only carry out grounds maintenance but also to issue fixed penalty notices, where necessary, to people who allow their dogs to foul or off the lead in its three playing fields.
The action follows a number of incidents, including dog attacks, and complaints from residents and parish council staff in recent years.
Sue Coulson, parish council clerk, said: “We have taken this action for the benefit of residents and for the health and wellbeing of everyone who uses the playing fields.
“We have often had complaints from residents about dog fouling and sometimes dogs being off leads and therefore spoiling the enjoyment of the playing fields for others.
“We don’t want to issue fixed penalty notices to people but we feel this may be the best way to deter them. If you don’t want a fine, clean up after your dog and keep them on a lead.”
The parish council worked with Nicola Gibson, the borough council’s enviro-crime and dog control manager, to implement the enforcement action.
The borough council introduced a Public Spaces Protection Order to replace the existing bye law regarding dog control in the area. The order allows authorised officers to issue fixed penalty notices for people allowing their dog to foul or be off the lead in the playing fields and cemetery.
The borough council is collecting the fines and if they are not paid, will pursue people through the courts if necessary. This protects the parish against any risk of legal costs, although the borough often recovers them through the courts.
Alan Twells, Head of Regulatory Services at Charnwood Borough Council, said: “This is a really positive initiative and I would like to praise Birstall for being willing to take this action.
“Residents have raised concerns and this is one way to help to tackle it. The majority of dog owners are very respectful and do comply, but it is a reminder to others that they should keep their dogs on a lead and clean up after them.”
So far, 18 fixed penalty notices have been issued by Darren since January. The fines are for £80, reduced to £50 if paid within two weeks.
The parish council says there has been a mixed response in the community but stress it is responding to concerns raised in the past and the aim is to create and develop, clean and safe areas for all to enjoy.