Crackdown planned for irresponsible Sunderland dog owners

Dog fouling signs on the sea front at Roker, Sunderland

Dog fouling signs on the sea front at Roker, Sunderland

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IRRESPONSIBLE dog owners who fail to pick up after their dogs are set to face a new crackdown.

Sunderland City Council is looking into the introduction of “control areas” across the city under a series of by-laws.

At a meeting next month, the cabinet will consider a report which outlines how dog fouling continues to be one of the issues most often raised by the public.

A control area could be any public place, such as a park, beach, playing field or known trouble spot, where the measures need to be enforced.

The move comes after the Echo revealed how just one £50 fine was given out in the last 12 months, meaning hundreds of owners failing to pick up after their pets were escaping punishment.

Councillor James Blackburn, portfolio holder for city services, said: “This report to cabinet is about how the council is looking at a more effective approach to tackling dog fouling.”

The cabinet report shows how the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act gives broader powers to local authorities, including offences where measures could be introduced in “defined areas”.

These are failing to remove dog faeces; not keeping a dog on a lead; not putting and keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer; permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded; and taking more than the specified number of dogs on to land.

Fixed Penalty Notices of £80 could be offered as an alternative to court action.

“The has included examining the powers available to the council under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act,” said Coun Blackburn.

“Subject to the decision of the cabinet, the council will be consulting with the public on where the control areas could be.”

Earlier this month, the Echo reported how the council had issued just one fine in the last 12 months for dog fouling.

Although it handed out 90 advisory and warning letters, including many where the offender had been identified, these act as warnings only.

The latest figures contrast sharply with those from the previous two years. Between August 2011 and August 2012, 61 fines totalling £3,450 were handed out, while in the same period in 2010 and 2011, 109 notices were issued, totalling £5,250.