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Nature reserve volunteer calls for irresponsible dog owners to be fined

A POPULAR nature reserve in Melksham is being ruined by irresponsible dog owners says local man, Stephen Rolfe.

Primrose Nature Reserve is a popular local green space that has been transformed and maintained by Stephen, who received a nomination for ‘Melksham Person of the Year’ for his efforts.

However, Stephen has raised concerns that dog owners are failing to pick up after their pets and he is calling for local councils to enforce fines to encourage responsible dog ownership.

“The failure of many dog owners to clean up after their pet is now really getting out of hand,” said Stephen. “It is the most hateful thing to have to watch where you’re going in many of our green spaces for fear of treading in dog faeces and not being able to properly enjoy your walk.

“On the whole the people who walk through and enjoy the sight and sounds of the wildlife are rather good at picking up after their dog, but of late I have noticed a marked increase in the deposits which have been left, mostly in full view. Some say I must be bored, stupid or lead a sad life as I do clean up after other irresponsible dog owners when out in the nature area.

“However for a period of a week I have left what I have found and instead marked with a semi permanent red spray. You would not believe the amount that has been left – it is quite shocking – no less than 36 piles of dog mess in seven days! Some were around seating areas, with 19 piles alone within 10/15 yards of the bin.

“There is plenty of signage regarding clearing up after your dog. Along with the standard council ones, there are our own, which are polite but to the point, so there is no excuse.

“I have been informed that there is no dog warden for our area or if there is, it is pretty much ineffective. Can I ask if the newly appointed town steward will be watching out for offending owners and their pets – is it included in their remit and if not, could it? I am sure authority could be given to just such a person to issue a fixed penalty ticket to offenders.

“The same can be said of the car park enforcement officers – could they not also be employed in a secondary role as dog poop wardens, with the same ability to issue fixed penalty tickets for offending owners?

“Could the council introduce a by-law, as used by some councils, that if you are seen out walking a dog and you are challenged by an authorised person to produce a bag specifically for picking up dog mess, and you fail to do so, then you are given a warning first, but on any second and subsequent event you cannot produce one, then you are given a fixed penalty ticket?

“Dare I ask Wiltshire Council under the freedom of information act just how many convictions have been made over a set period for not picking up or cleaning up after your dog?”

When asked to clarify if Melksham has a dog warden and how the law is enforced, a spokesperson for Wiltshire Council said, “We will visit this specific area and investigate the matter. We act on complaints received, placing signage where possible, visit identified offenders and carry out patrols and enforcement where necessary.

“Any areas with multiple incidents reported to us will be visited by our team to clean up as soon as possible.

“Members of the public can report any instances of dog mess by using the My Wiltshire on their smart phone or via our website (www.wiltshire.gov.uk/parkingtransportandstreets/roads highwaysstreetcare/my  wiltshirelogin.htm).

“Registration is free and only takes a few minutes. This will allow people to track reports they have made and receive a notification once the work has been completed. Photos and videos can also be attached to reports and mark the location.  If people are having trouble using our online service, or don’t have access, they should call our customer services team on 0300 456 0100 and they will be able to raise a report on their behalf.”

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