Michelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)
Council set to crackdown on dog fouling across borough
A two-year enforcement contract is to be awarded by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in a further crackdown on dog fouling, littering and fly-tipping.
The decision was taken behind closed doors at a meeting of the Direct Services Committee last month.
Councillors agreed the supplementary contract will be on the basis the local authority will receive a percentage of income from fixed penalty notices which are set to increase in cost.
Fixed penalties for dog fouling and littering are set to rise from £80 to £120 with a reduction cost of £80 to apply for early payment. The new penalties will apply from April 1.
Both proposals were made by Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Maeve Donnelly and seconded by Carrickfergus Castle DUP Cllr Cheryl Brownlee.
Braid DUP Cllr Julie Frew requested that dog foul bins be emptied more regularly and additional bins are provided.
The Environmental Offences (Fixed Penalties) Regulations (NI) 2022 came into operation on December 30 which increase the maximum penalty a council can impose for littering and dog fouling from £80 to £200.
Fixed penalties for dog fouling in Mid and East Antrim have increased almost ten-fold since the appointment of enforcement company Waste Investigations Support and Enforcement (WISE) in April 2021, rising from nine in 2020/21 to 84 in 2021/22.
WISE has been given powers to issue fixed penalty notices for littering and dog fouling in “hotspot areas” across Mid and East Antrim.
A hotline to report dog fouling was proposed at part of a motion to tackle the ongoing issue at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in January.
The motion put forward by Carrickfergus Castle Alderman Billy Ashe MBE also proposed the hours of wardens be extended to include night time and early morning patrol of hotspot areas.
Ald Ashe named Marine Highway, Carrickfergus and Carrickfergus Marina as “hotspots”.
He said he does not believe that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has ever got to grips with the “worsening” issue and urged the authority to take a “strategic approach”.
He went on to say he would have expected the private company contracted by the council to tackle littering and dog fouling to have made a “huge impact” on this issue.
“I am asking officers to bring forward a strategy that we can enforce and help to eradicate this health hazard and social problem once and for all,” he stated.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council issued 71 fixed penalties for dog fouling during the first six months of 2022. There were 199 complaints about dog fouling in the borough in 2021/22; 374 in 2020/21; 314 in 2019/20 and 351 in 2018/19.
The local authority is due to carry out a public consultation on dog control orders when the community will have a chance to have a say.