Tendring District Council meeting 13th July 2021
QUESTION: From Councillor Jo Henderson to Councillor Michael Talbot, Portfolio Holder for Environment & Public Space:
“It is almost four years since I met with the Portfolio Holder and officers to discuss the issues of dog fouling in Harwich and Dovercourt / Tendring. Ideas I put forward were not taken up by the Portfolio Holder at that time. Enforcement and progress has not happened within this department and complaints have increased.
I urge again, that our dog wardens be supplied with fold up bicycles, as this will help to enable them to patrol our seafronts in a more environmentally friendly and efficient way. The current driving in vans does not get any enforcement results on dog fouling and is not environmentally friendly. Does the Portfolio Holder agree with me that more enforcement is now needed, as his current soft approach has failed?”
RESPONSE: From Councillor Michael Talbot, Portfolio Holder for Environment & Public Space:
“Thank you for your question Councillor Jo Henderson and as you rightly say I organised a meeting for you at Weeley on the afternoon of 8th September 2017, following a series of reports from you that the ‘Dog Poo’ problem in Dovercourt was out of control and not receiving either a clean-up or the prosecution of offenders. The meeting included the Head of Service, accompanied by Darren O’Neil and one of our two Dog Wardens.
You spoke then about high visibility jackets and a suggestion of having fold up bikes for the patrol to use. We spoke about notices, and I suggested using stencils on the sea wall and pathways. A good meeting with no answers but lots of suggestion, but with a warning from the Head of Service that there was no pool of money waiting to be spent on this.
I was conscious at that meeting that Dovercourt Councillors had consistently complained that many of their residents do not pick-up their Dog waste, and long standing Members may remember special attention given to this by Council, highlighted on Tuesday 29th June 2004 when we gave a number of radio interviews reporting the relative success of some unique dog mess signs in Dovercourt, whereas the owners took no notice of signs encouraging them to pick-up after their pets these signs, written underneath the request to Dog Owners to pick-up their waste, was apparently addressed to their dogs. The footnote said, “For Dogs” GRRR; BARK; WOOF WOOF – good dog! These unique signs were the brainchild of Bill Smith, our officer at the time, and had been reported in the National Press, giving rise to a lot of publicity.
I report these background notes so that newer Members realise that Dovercourt Dog Poo is not a new issue!
One of the first things to mention is of course that people need to take personal responsibility for their dogs and their waste. I think that must be the primary message that we as the District Council as well as local members and Town, Parish and the District Council need to be spreading, rather than criticising. My Cabinet colleagues and I would much rather that dogs were cared for and controlled, and that waste was cleared up without a single enforcement action.
I thank Councillor Henderson again for her suggestion, but as four years ago, after examination by the team, I’m afraid that portable bicycles are not found to be of practical use for dog wardens, who’s primary role as a dog warden is the collection and transportation of stray dogs and although the vans themselves may look large from the outside the storage space inside is very limited and is for equipment such as, graspers, shields, sprays, and other items that are kept securely in the van and would not be able to be carried whilst riding a bicycle. When our dog warden conducts a foot patrols, they will carry very limited equipment and will never venture to far from the van.
Having said that for example let us just say a dog warden parks his van in West End Lane car park and sets off on patrol on a bicycle and as he/she arrives in old town Harwich they discover a stray dog. The warden would then need to transport that dog back along the prom whilst carrying a foldable bicycle too. I think you will already guess that I do not support the suggestion that Dog Wardens be supplied with bikes!
Our wardens travel in marked vehicles, and I feel that visible presence would be lost if the wardens were riding bicycles. The dog wardens have to cover a very large area throughout Tendring and work to the corporate enforcement principles of the 4 E’s – Engage, Explain, Educate and Enforce.
Recording of live stream. Go to 1hr, 11 mins.