Just three Fixed Penalty Notices for dog fouling have been issued by the local council over the past six months, it has been revealed.
Ulster Unionist Cllr Glenn Bar described the lack of fines as ‘ridiculous’ adding that officers of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council are well aware of where the hot spots are.
DUP Cllr Junior McCrum said not enough pro-active work is being done on the ground adding that the majority of offences were being carried out early in the morning and late evening, not between 9-5.
He said that they needed to make an example of these people and suggested that for a trial period officers should go out to hot spot areas early in the mornings and late evenings.
Ulster Unionist Cllr Ian Burns said it was fast becoming a major issue throughout city/town/village centres and was no longer confined to just park areas.
UKIP Cllr David Jones said it was ‘silly’ when the best the Council could do was to issue three Fixed Penalty Notices in a six month period.
Sinn Fein Cllr Keith Haugian said that the number of calls they as a party received in relation to this issue, was not reflected in the number of Fixed Penalty Fines issued by the Council. He asked how many officers were employed to deal with this issue.
Two DUP Cllrs proposed the officers dealing with dog fouling be invited to the next committee meeting.
However, SDLP Cllr Mealla Campbell was concerned at a bid to ‘summon’ officers and that staff did a great job in difficult circumstances and were subjected to a lot of abuse.
A Council spokesperson said it enforces a ‘zero tolerance’ approach and ‘as a direct result of their hard work, complaints about dog fouling in the Craigavon area has fallen by 56% in the past year’.
Since April 2015 three FPNs have been issued for dog fouling offences in Craigavon City Park and Bann Boulevard, Officers have also issued 160 FPNs for straying dogs, 35 for unlicensed dogs and 376 for littering while 42 cases were dealt with in the courts with fines of up to £150 being issued to offenders.
The Council blamed irresponsible owners and said five Environmental Wardens worked across Craigavon area including morning, evening and weekend shift patterns, ‘but it can still be difficult to catch offenders. Experience has shown that dog owners will clean up after their pet has fouled if they know someone is watching but if they think no one is in the vicinity many choose to walk on and leave the mess behind’.