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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Councillors discuss scourge of dog fouling across borough and agree penalty increase

No fouling dog sign

Mid and East Antrim councillors have agreed to increase the penalty for dog fouling and littering to the maximum of £200 from next month.


The rise from the current £120 fine was approved at a meeting of the council’s Neighbourhoods and Communities Committee on Tuesday evening as part of a “zero tolerance” approach.


The new charge will apply from June 1. An early payment rate will be scrapped.



Councillors were told 48 fixed penalty notices were issued by the council for dog fouling and littering during 2023/24. Seventy-two per cent of penalties were paid within 14 days resulting in payments at a reduced rate of £80.


Ten per cent paid the higher rate of £120. Of the 18 per cent of unpaid penalties, eight per cent were prosecuted by the local authority.


Four fixed penalty notices were issued for fly-tipping. All were paid at the early payment rate of £300.



Knockagh TUV Councillor David Clarke said that a total of 48 penalties was “quite low” especially across three large towns.


“Everybody in society should take responsibility for their animals. With children, it is a health and safety issue.” Cllr Clarke said a “maximum increase would send a strong message and hopefully act as a deterrent”.


Carrickfergus Castle DUP Alderman Billy Ashe MBE said:


“I think the number of convictions is low.” He stated it is a “big issue” adding he has been considering placing a camera at the front of his own house.



“It is one of the basic issues we should be sending a strong signal on. We need to make sure that dog wardens are not moved into other duties. I think that is why we have so few convictions. They are busy dealing with dog bites and other things of that nature.


“I would like to see a strong message sent out. I would like to see council take this issue seriously.  I think this is very basic stuff. I would like to see us being active on this front.”


Bannside Ulster Unionist Cllr Jackson Minford stated:


“We need to send a clear message. Why are we giving a discount? There should be one payment. Penalties should be a maximum with no reduction.”



Ballymena DUP Cllr Lawrie Philpott reported he has been “inundated in the last year” with complaints about dog fouling and £80 payments for the number of offences is “absolutely dire”.


He described the number of fines and discounts as “absolutely disgraceful”. “Deterrence is the big thing we have in our pocket,” he added.


Ballymena Sinn Fein Cllr Breanainn Lyness said dog fouling was “a scourge in the town especially around hotspots such as the Ecos Centre”.


“Council should be taking a more proactive approach, putting more bins and signs up. Increasing fines would be more of a deterrent,” he stated.



Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Maeve Donnelly said she believed there needs to be a “total mind shift” noting that beaches such as Browns Bay, Islandmagee, are “left in a terrible way”. “Having a deterrent needs to happen,” she stressed.


Coast Road DUP Cllr Angela Smyth said she believed that wardens need to be using unmarked cars. “I have had telephone calls regarding our cemetery. Dog wardens went up four days in a row but did not get anybody.”


Knockagh Ulster Unionist Ald Andrew Wilson agreed to “go for the maximum” and asked for a comparison with other local authorities in Northern Ireland. He was told three councils charge a maximum penalty of £200 at present.


Ald Ashe went on to say he believed that dog wardens should be on duty in the evenings when dogs are being walked by their owners.

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