Council to initiate action plan to tackle dog fouling
The motion was put forward by Foyleside SDLP Councillor Lilian Barr at a reconvened Full Council Meeting on Thursday, November 23.
It proposed that Council initiate a ‘comprehensive action plan’ in conjunction with Dogs Trust NI or a similar organisation, to ‘affirm the unwavering commitment to maintaining a clean environment for residents and visitors’.
The plan includes expansive, district-wide awareness initiatives to educate owners and promote responsible dog ownership, and requested external funding to implement a ‘We Are Watching You’ anti-dog fouling campaign in the district.
According to the proposal, the ‘We Are Watching You’ campaign has demonstrated ‘remarkable success in reducing dog fouling by up to 75%’ in Britain.
“Dog fouling is one of the top concerns of people in our community,” Colr. Barr said. “I have been flooded with calls, emails and even some disturbing images.”
She continued: “This shows how big a problem this has become and how streets are being marred by dog waste, and people are rightfully frustrated by the small minority who don’t care about the health and safety of their neighbours.
“We know the rates burden has taken its toll, and I understand why people are giving politicians clear instructions to get the basics right.”
Colr. Barr said the proposal was a ‘tangible action to address the issue’ and also requested that a Dogs Trust NI representative is invited to speak at a future Health and Communities Committee meeting.
She continued: “I believe these strategies can eliminate this harmful behaviour and enhance the overall wellbeing of our community.”
The Moor Sinn Féin District Councillor Aisling Hutton said she had been ‘inundated with phone calls’ from residents about the issue.
“Not only is it not nice to look at, it’s a health hazard,” Colr. Hutton said. “It’s a good idea to bring Dogs Trust NI in to speak and present to the committee as models of good practice.
“It’s really important to find solutions so we’re not talking about this in another four years’ time.”
Waterside DUP Alderman Chelsea Cooke said the party has been actively requesting new dog fouling bins in required areas and believe that education and penalties for those responsible is the ‘key’ to solving the issue.
Derg UUP Alderman Derek Hussey said dog fouling was ‘an issue throughout our council area’ and not just in urban locations.
“There have been motions before, but the great advantage of this one is liaising with the experts at Dogs Trust NI. They have a proven record in places like Manchester,” he said.
Foyleside People Before Profit District Councillor Shaun Harkin said ‘one or two motions a year’ are passed in Council around dog fouling, and that ‘reflects the seriousness of the issue’.
“Awareness is key, the issue of cleanliness and issues of danger to children. Awareness campaigns have made a difference.
“When there are budget cuts it adds up to the burden Council faces, and dog fouling is one of those issues. More funding and fewer cuts would enhance our ability to sustain campaigns,” he said.
Local Democracy Reporter