Why South Tyneside council chiefs won’t be fining dog walkers for not having clean-up bags

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Council bosses in South Tyneside have confirmed they have no plans to fine dog walkers who fail to carry “poo bags”.

The statement comes as councils across the country have stepped up the war on dog walkers who don’t come prepared in a bid to tackle dog mess.

South Tyneside has no plans to fine dog walkers with no clean up bags

South Tyneside has no plans to fine dog walkers with no clean up bags

Rogue dog walkers no longer need to be caught not picking up dog mess. In several parts of the country - including Hartlepool in the North East - they risk a fine if they’re caught out with their pooch but don’t have poo bags on them.

Dog walkers in Lincolnshire can be challenged to prove their intention to pick up dog mess by producing some form of bag.

Anyone without a bag facing a fixed penalty notice of up to £100 or a fine of up to £1,000 if a case goes to court under rules that came into force in September.

The North East’s seven local authorities have confirmed that this isn’t something they’re doing and, currently, dog walkers are not fined for being without clean up bags.

South Tyneside Council said it takes a “proactive approach” to “educate” dog walkers rather than punish them.

A spokesperson for the council said: “We take a proactive, rather than a punitive, approach to responsible dog ownership.

“Our wardens regularly talk to dog owners about the importance of clearing up after their pets and we also supply dog waste bags.

“We have also placed signage across the Borough in key locations to remind dog owners to clear up after their pets and also to highlight areas where dogs are excluded or need to be kept on a lead.

“We also run high profile campaigns including No Messing, We’re Watching You, Love Where You Live and Report It.”

Newcastle City Council said it was “impracticable” to search dog-lovers for plastic bags, but said it took a “robust” approach to the issue.

A spokesperson said: “This is an approach we’ve looked at in the past but it was deemed impracticable and was therefore not pursued.

“We have a robust approach to dog fouling in the city and the responsibility lies with dog owners and walkers and we would remind them they are committing an offence if they do not clean up after their pet.

“The consequences of this can range from a £75 fixed penalty notice charge up to a £1,000 fine.”

Meanwhile, Durham County Council said that it would “consider all options” when its current public spaces protection order, which covers canine control, comes up for review next year.

Ian Hoult, neighbourhood protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “We do not currently issue fines to pet owners who are found with insufficient dog waste bags.

“But we will consider all options when we review our Public Space Protection Order in 2020.

“The current order was introduced in 2017, following a public consultation, and extended our powers for dog control.

“As well as issuing fines to those who do not pick up after their dog, the order empowers us to take action in other circumstances, including when owners allow their dogs to stray or fail to put their pet on the lead when asked to do so.

“Dogs are also banned from certain fenced off play parks.”

Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporting Service