I share Jane Gould’s hopes in her recent letter that North Tyneside Council’s appointment of two wardens to tackle irresponsible dog ownership and environmental crime will make a difference, but I have serious doubts.
The council states that the new Public Space Protection Orders include measures to reduce dog fouling and public drinking. They also make it an offence for a dog to be allowed into a play area, on to specific beaches during the summer, or to be let off the lead in designated places.
Anyone falling foul of the rules could be handed a fixed penalty notice or a court fine of up to £1,000 for failure to pay.
This is all very laudable, but the council does not explain how these new rules will be policed or enforced.
The borough of North Tyneside is massive, covering 20 wards over 82.40km². It will be virtually impossible for just two wardens to tackle problems across such a vast area.
Furthermore, on the subject of fouling, unless you can trace a dog owner to an address or through a car number plate, they cannot be prosecuted or fined.
Simply witnessing people allowing their dogs to foul or chucking bags of dog mess into front gardens or trees isn’t enough, such people have to be identified first, and that has always been the council’s problem.
It has never had sufficient enforcement officers on the ground to follow up on such crimes and, despite these new measures, nothing much has changed.
Coun John Stirling says the new scheme will allow the council to “deal more robustly with activity that has a detrimental effect on our public spaces”.
There is nothing very robust about it. Anyone can write a statement of intent, which is basically what the Public Space Protection Orders amount to.
If the council explained how its new measures will be enforced in practical terms, we would all be much more reassured and perhaps take these rules more seriously.