Questions have been raised about whether a local authority’s enforcement officers are taking the right approach after two dog walkers were fined in Mold.
The pair were said to have allowed their animals off the lead on playing fields at The Rec when they were approached by staff from Flintshire Council and handed fixed penalty notices.
However, while allowing dogs to roam free on marked pitches is against the rules in the county, they said there unaware as they claimed there were no signs in place.
The matter was raised by Mold Broncoed councillor Hadyn Bateman, who said the two had complained to him.
Speaking at an environment scrutiny committee meeting held yesterday, he suggested to officers that it would have been better to give them advice than punish them.
He said: “Two people have received fixed penalty notices for dogs running loose on the football field.
“Apparently, there’s no signs there at all anywhere on the grounds and the markings on the football field are extremely warn and patchy.
“They didn’t realise that their dogs couldn’t run loose, and they weren’t fouling.
“I would’ve thought that the officers would’ve been able to realise that there were no signs and just tell them rather than do that.”
Flintshire Council recently brought its environmental enforcement service, which takes action against littering, dog fouling and other offences, back in-house following the departure of Kingdom Services.
The external company previously drew criticism for its tactics, with some people accusing its staff of issuing £75 fines for cases of accidental littering.
It led to backbench politicians in the county recommending a better balance between enforcement and education when the council took on its own officers.
In response to Cllr Bateman’s concerns, a senior officer said the authority had spent a long time educating people on the rules for dog walkers on playing fields.
Steve Jones, chief officer for streetscene and transportation, added that it also kept photo records of all signs put in place and promised to look into the matter.
He said: “It was debated at great length previously about whether we should allow dogs on marked pitches.
“We spent at least nine months doing nothing but communications.
“We went out on patrol and every person we met we issued advice to.
“We’ve actually taken photographs of every single site now to prove we have put signs up.
“I will look at that site for you specifically to make sure signs are in place.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).