Fewer fines for dog fouling were handed out in Northumberland last year compared to the previous year.
However, while the number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued from May 2017 to April 2018 was 87, down from 98 during the previous 12-month period, the number of dog-fouling complaints received by the county council reduced by 25 per cent.
The figures, which also show that the fines brought in £5,240 last year, down from £6,580, were revealed at the full council meeting on Wednesday (May 2) in response to a question from Coun Georgina Hill, ward member for Berwick East.
Coun Glen Sanderson, the cabinet member for the environment and local services, said that the fall was ‘largely because of the carrot and stick approach the council is now taking’.
He said that one-third of households in the North East has a dog, meaning there are a lot in Northumberland – ‘most are well-looked-after and their owners are thoroughly responsible, but some are not’.
“So far as encouraging better and more responsible dog ownership, this council introduced in July last year the Green Dog Walkers’ Club and we’ve just signed up our 1,000th member, but where dog fouling does take place, we take that very seriously and we’ve actually increased our enforcement team over the past year.
“I am optimistic that the way we’re approaching this is working and I thank all our front-line officers very much for the work that they do.”
Asked by Coun Hill if the council could do more, Coun Sanderson added: “We would do more if we had the help of the public. We need to know where the animals are being kept, where they are being taken, when and at what time.
“But we do act very quickly on all the reports we get and we do everything we can to be as responsive as we can and that’s why I think those figures are improving and why I think what we’ve done as an administration is actually beginning to work.”
Of the 185 FPNs issued in the past two years, the main hotspots were in the south-east of the county: Ashington – 20; Blyth – 22; Cambois – 22; Cramlington – 14; and Seaton Sluice – 15.
There were also 14 fines issued in Amble and a further 14 at Druridge Bay. The remainder were handed out as follows: Alnmouth – three; Alnwick – four; Bamburgh – one; Belford – one; Berwick – four; Boulmer – two; Cresswell – five; Hadston – one; Haltwhistle – four; Hexham – one; Lynemouth – two; Morpeth – four; Newbiggin – seven; Pegswood – two; Prudhoe – one; Red Row – two; Seaton Delaval – six; Seghill – two; Sleekburn – one; Stakeford – one.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service