New powers for wardens but doubts over impact on “hard core” of dog owners

COMMUNITY wardens in Angus have formally taken responsibility for combating dog fouling in the county, with new powers to issue on the spot fines.

The service began its new role on Friday and follows a best value review of the wardens, which was approved by councillors in February.

It means that community wardens rather than the county’s dog warden will have the primary responsibility for enforcing fouling fines, extending powers granted in 2007.

The dog warden service was introduced in the early 1990s with two wardens covering the whole of Angus, but this was reduced to a single member of staff last year as part of the authority’s 2010-11 budget setting process.

When all 12 wardens are available, two will be deployed in Montrose, four in Arbroath and two each in Forfar, Brechin/Kirriemuir and Carnoustie/Monifieth.

The wardens’ shifts are also being revised to include an early morning shift to help tackle the dog fouling problem.

Last year a council survey showed that dog mess overshadowed residents’ concerns over issues such as drug abuse, vandalism and antisocial behaviour.

The move was welcomed by Arbroath councillor Donald Morrison, who said it was “long overdue” although local councillor Mark Salmond has cast doubt on the wardens’ impact on a “hard core” of irresponsible owners.

Mr Morrison said: “Dog fouling angers a huge number of residents in my ward and is continually raised at community council and neighbourhood watch meetings.

“Disappointingly, the number of fines dished out to irresponsible dog owners in recent years has been very small. The mess on some pavements and in children’s play areas is a disgrace and I am lost why anyone would refuse to pick up after their pet in public areas when it is such a serious health hazard.”

Mr Salmond said that while he welcomed the wardens’ additional powers, he doubted their ability to tackle owners who let their dogs foul public areas during “unsociable hours”.

He said: “Dog fouling is an issue that is constantly raised with me and it was raised yet again at Montrose Community Council on Thursday night. There is no excuse for dog owners allowing their dogs to foul the pavements or park land.

“It is only a minority of dog owners who allow their dogs to foul the pavements. Most dog owners are responsible and clean up behind them.

“I would encourage members of the public to report any incidents to Angus Council. While I welcome the new powers which the community wardens now have, I still have doubts whether this will make an impact on the hard core of dog owners who continually allow their dogs to foul areas of our towns at unsociable hours when the enforcement staff are not working.

“Until we can instil some civic pride into our communities and make dog fouling socially unacceptable, this problem will never go away.”