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Plain-clothed council officers to be used in crackdown on dog fouling in Flintshire

Plain-clothed officers are set to be used as part of a crackdown on dog fouling in Flintshire.

Other possible measures being introduced include the use of stencils and a temporary spray paint to highlight problem areas.

Enforcement staff working for Flintshire Council will also be asked to work flexible shifts, including early mornings and evenings, in order to target people who fail to clean up after their pets.

It comes as the local authority has brought the issuing of £75 fines back in-house following the departure of Kingdom Services, whose alleged ‘heavy handed’ tactics proved unpopular in the county.

Senior figures said their attention would be centred on reducing the amount of dog poo left on pavements and public places, following complaints the external company was too focused on people who drop cigarette butts.

They added that officers would aim to strike the right balance between education and enforcement, and no monthly targets would be set for them.

Discussing the new protocol for addressing dog fouling and littering with backbench councillors, Steve Jones, chief officer for Streetscene and transportation, said: “When they’re doing the patrols, dog fouling is the number one issue.

“If we get intelligence from councillors about a specific time of the day, the officers are contracted flexibly enough to come in and deal with the issues.
“I would just stress that there isn’t pressure put on the officers.

“(The number of fines) is reported through budget monitoring but the emphasis really is around education.”

Speaking at an environment scrutiny committee meeting at County Hall in Mold today, he stressed that giving out fixed penalty notices was not aimed at generating money for the council.

However, Connah’s Quay Golftyn councillor Andy Dunbobbin questioned the inclusion of an annual income target of £20,000 within the report.

The Labour politician said: “I have no problem as such with what the genuine intentions are of this.

“What bothers me is the wording of what’s been put to us this morning.

“I think that it should read that it’s intended to be a cost neutral exercise.

“It’s already sending the message to me that it’s going to be based on income.”

The figure equates to 266 fines being handed out per year or 22 per month.

In response, Mr Jones clarified it was an indicative amount based on the level of notices issued when the council last ran the service.

In terms of littering, he added the focus would be on those who drop rubbish deliberately rather than accidental cases.

However, one senior councillor accused the authority of taking the ‘soft option’ and questioned whether seven staff members was enough to cover the whole of Flintshire

Cllr Chris Bithell, the Labour cabinet member for planning and public protection, said: “I’m a big believer in education and I spent a whole career in education, but very often the problem is not with children.

“Unfortunately, unless you’re tough with people it’s not going to be effective.

“I think there’s been a recent deterioration in the standard and I think that will continue.”

The majority of committee members voted to approve the new protocol for issuing fines.

They also asked for a review of the service to be brought to them after six months.

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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