Midlothian Council joins Dish the Dirt campaign

Lewis Ferrier from Gullane has shown the way in picking up dog dirt. Picture: contributed
Lewis Ferrier from Gullane has shown the way in picking up dog dirt. Picture: contributed
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SUPPORT for our Dish the Dirt campaign has spiralled into the Lothians with other councils backing the campaign.

Environmental officers from Midlothian have joined the fight to tackle lazy dog owners in its towns and villages.

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The council has already taken measures, like increasing the frequency of out-of-hours patrols to try and catch the culprits with 217 complaints made about dog mess in the last year.

Councillor Owen Thompson, cabinet member for environmental health, said it was an issue Midlothian Council took very seriously with the number of fixed penalty notices issued doubling in the last two years.

He said streets and parks have improved but pathways and walkways were still a problem, putting people off walking, running, cycling and enjoying the area. The council has started to introduce path stencils, particularly near schools, and work continues to label public bins to ensure the public know dog waste can go into household and municipal bins as well as in the dedicated dog waste bins.

Mr Thompson said: “There are new efforts under way to reinforce our abhorrence at dog fouling, but what hasn’t changed is our message which remains very clear and very direct – dog fouling is totally unacceptable.”

Educating the seven per cent of offending dog owners has become a priority and free dog bags to pick up the mess are provided at council offices, 
leisure centres and libraries.

East Lothian council said its similar campaign “Dog Watch – Who’s Watching You” was launched after it discovered one of the main reasons that dog owners did not clear up the mess was because they thought “no-one was watching”.

It is encouraging people to report offences, display posters and demonstrate a zero tolerance to this type of antisocial behaviour by speaking to dog owners and encouraging them to behave responsibly.

The initiative has led to eight-year-old Lewis Ferrier being singled out for praise after a plain-clothed warden watched the youngster near his home in Gullane.

Community warden Mandy Smith said: “He pulled out a small black bag which he promptly used to pick up the mess, and he then tied the bag, walked over to the dog bin and properly disposed of it.

“Lewis challenges stereotypes about how irresponsible young people can be and also made us ask why some grown-ups can’t show a similar amount of care.”

West Lothian Council confirmed it received 610 inquiries regarding dog fouling in public places in 2012 and encouraged people to shop the offenders. It warned offending dog owners they faced a £40 fine, rising to £60 if not paid within 28 days, or up to £500 if it ended in a court prosecution.

A spokesman said: “Anyone with information on dog fouling, such as when, where and who is responsible, can help us tackle the thoughtless minority.”