Dog mess hoovers used in crackdown

An Islington Council 'poover'. Picture: comp
An Islington Council 'poover'. Picture: comp
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DEDICATED dog mess 
cleaning machines – labelled “poovers” – are set to join plain-clothes wardens on the Capital’s streets under new plans for a “zero tolerance” crackdown on lazy pet owners.

Extended patrols, weekly publication of fixed penalty 
notice (FPN) figures and increasing the level of fines are all being considered.

In a twin-pronged approach, enhanced cleansing measures will also be deployed, with poovers – specially adapted bikes capable of spraying then sucking up waste – likely to emerge as a key weapon.

Updated blueprints come after we revealed how each of the Capital’s wardens is handing out only one FPN for pet fouling every six months.

And according to the latest Edinburgh People Survey, the percentage of residents satisfied with control of dog mess has more than halved in six years – down from 62 per cent between 2009-11 to 30 per cent in 2014.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, said she wanted to work with communities to tackle the issue but stressed the time had come to “get tough”. She said: “I think Edinburgh has improved and there are far more people who are responsible and picking up after their dogs.

“But there is also a persistent minority [of offenders] and we need to be really hard and say it’s a zero tolerance approach to dog fouling in Edinburgh.

“Over the last year, there has been a recorded drop of 40 per cent in dog complaints and we’ve been doing campaigns, such as Dish The Dirt and Don’t Blame The Dog, which have helped.

“Enforcement is one of our key issues, but so is working together with local constituents.”

As well as confirming the possible introduction of plain-clothes wardens – already deployed in Glasgow – environmental leaders said they would look at using community police officers as a “high visibility deterrent”. Residents will also be encouraged to shop problem pet owners by providing witness statements or through social media, with a new Twitter hashtag set to be created as an additional reporting tool.

Bruce Bennet, secretary at Friends of Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park, said: “We’re definitely more optimistic and pleased that the council is taking action on the biggest complaint that we get from people about our park. It’s great that we’re having another drive and we’re doing our bit to make sure we get the message over.”

Some of the planned measures, such as raising the fine for a FPNs, will require approval from Scottish ministers, who confirmed they had met with council leaders.

A spokeswoman said: “We are now giving this further careful thought before reaching any decisions.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com