Dog mess reports on the rise as pink poopers shame pet owners
Labour say Conservatives are skewing the reporting figures ahead of elections
05 April, 2018 — By Richard Osley
Henry Newman unearthed the figures
REPORTS of dog-fouling on pavements in Camden have trebled, according to new figures released by the council. Statistics show that in nine months of last year there were 385 complaints across the borough, compared to 109 in the same period the previous year.
Conservative election candidate Henry Newman, who obtained the data using Freedom of Information rules, says the uptick in cases can be traced to changes to Camden’s waste policy last April, and that errant dog owners are escaping fines. Labour council chiefs say they have taken measures against dog-fouling and that the figures have been skewed.
Mr Newman, who is standing in Frognal ward, said “There’s a cycle of decline, where litter and dog-mess bins are regularly overflowing, domestic bins are full, and fly-tipping, littering or uncollected dog mess result. “Dog mess is disgusting, unhygienic and dangerous, and yet not a single irresponsible dog owner was fined by the council last year.”
His party has called for a review of the new waste contract and street-cleaning measures, with a pledge to restore universal weekly bin collections written into the Conservative manifesto ahead of the May 3 local elections.
The change in direction at the Town Hall was driven by a need to cut costs, but also an attempt to drive up recycling rates by continuing to make a weekly pick-up of recyclables. Waste and mess, however, are one of the Conservatives’ key lines of attack going into the elections; they are mentioned 12 times in the Tory manifesto.
Mr Newman said: “Labour slashed rubbish collections to once a fortnight for much of north Camden and awarded a new street cleansing contract. Since then, we have seen a huge increase in the mess on our streets – rubbish, fly-tipping but also a tripling of dog-mess.”
His earlier research found reported cases of fly-tipping had doubled since the changes were made, and littering was up seven-fold. Labour councillors, however, say the Tories are trying to make political gain over misleading figures, as Camden has, over the same period, made it easier to report mess through a phone app. More than half of last year’s reports came through this system. It has also been suggested that Conservatives have glossed over the difficulty of catching offenders, who usually only walk away from their dog’s mess when there are no witnesses.
Environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison said: “Here we have a case where Brexit mess meets dog mess. Brexit-promoting Mr Newman fits into the pattern of irresponsible Tories deploying figures for their own ends and concealing the real picture. £350m a week anyone?” He added: “While catching irresponsible dog owners in the act is always difficult, it is also true that last year the government changed the rules regarding fining for this offence. “Camden’s team of officers will be enforcing under the new rules. We look forward to working closely with residents to identify repeat offenders. Such intelligence is often the best way of stopping this disgusting issue afflicting a particular area.”
Pink painters in King’s Cross want more regular street cleaning
FED-UP residents in King’s Cross have begun documenting dog mess left near their homes through a relentless Twitter account. The Pink Poops Of King’s Cross account – found at @kxdogshame – aims to shame dog owners who leave their pet’s excrement on the streets. The author is among 90 people in the borough who have applied for a pink spray to highlight dog mess on the street.
In Cubitt Street this week, the account marked its 53rd “fresh poop” in less than three months. It is calling for more regular street cleaning and says council contractors should act before residents need to complain.
Environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison said he hoped to meet the people behind the updates. “I think the Twitter account is a great thing and am impressed by their dedication to the issue,” he added. “The pink spray is supplied by the council and is a helpful way to highlight the problem and shame irresponsible dog owners.”