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by Tom Marshall
Thursday, August 16, 2012
A high-profile and costly campaign to crack down on irresponsible dog owners has been criticised after it resulted in just 26 fines in three months.
The Islington Council scheme, which came to an end last week, has been branded a “waste of money”. Residents said it did little to clean up the streets.
Over the 12 weeks, an average of one £80 dog mess fine was issued for each of the 22 “dog squad” officers who have been patrolling the streets, totalling £2,080 in fines.
Laura Weightman, 26, who works in Lonsdale Square, Islington, and launched a Twitter “Pootition” campaign to highlight the scale of the problem, said: “Initially it seemed to make a difference, but over the past six weeks it’s gone back to normal. Any street off Upper Street is just full of dog poo.
“They have not solved the problem and it’s not been money well spent. They need to rethink their approach.”
The council revealed this week that the scheme came in under budget – costing £134,000 rather than the expected £240,000 – but that still works out as more than £5,000 for every one of the 26 fines.
A 35-year-old member of the tenants’ and residents’ association in Arundel Square, one of the places identified as a dog poo “hotspot” by the council, who initially supported the scheme, said: “It’s a stupid waste of money – I can think of much better ways for the council to spend its money. Twenty-six fines is just a joke, it’s terrible and it’s a huge failure.”
The council insists the scheme has been a success and that many streets have seen a big improvement. A spokesman said it is still being reviewed and a report will go before the executive in September.
As well as the 26 fines for fouling, the squad issued 24 penalties to people who took their dogs into the wrong areas such as children’s enclosures.
Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “From the feedback we have had, most people think it’s been a great success.
“It’s been a great success in all the areas we have been targeting. We have a significant drop in the amount of people who are allowing the dogs to foul on the street.
“People are happy that the council seems to be doing something and we will continue to have a very strong line on this. As far as we’re concerned, there’s been a significant change in the way people behave.”