Council agress “tough line” on dog fouling and seagull nuisances

Two of the biggest public nuisances in South Ayrshire – dog fouling and seagulls – are to be more rigorously tackled after South Ayrshire Council agreed a package of measures to combat the problems.

The council say that dog fouling has been one of the most prolific and high profile issues facing it and last year a public consultation exercise asked residents to consider whether dogs should be prohibited from a range of public places, including children’s play areas, school grounds, playing fields, beaches, cemeteries and golf courses.

Nearly 3000 (2,957) responses were received demonstrating a high level of public interest in the issue, despite excellent progress made in tackling dog fouling in recent years.

Dogs are to be banned from school playgrounds, other than those invited by the head teacher, or those assisting a person with disabilities.

The council is also now recommending that dogs should not be brought into children’s play areas unless on a short lead thus ensuring the safety of children.

IN sports grounds (and only if not in use at the time), cemeteries and beaches dogs should be under proper control on a short lead of two metres or less.

Although there is a public right to cross a golf course, there is no right to roam or walk on greens.

The council is also to tackle the nuisance of seagulls, initially in Ayr, with an anti-litter campaign involving voluntary groups, police, schools, Ayr Renaissance and other stakeholders to reduce the amount of street litter and feeding opportunities for seagulls.

Councillor John McDowall, Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and the Environment explained: “People told us they wanted to see more enforcement of legislation relating to dog fouling and only a third (34%) of respondents reported improvements in dog fouling.

“That’s despite 83% being aware of the council’s ‘Pick Up or Pay Up’ campaign. Over half (56%) said they wanted one or more public areas to be dog free.”

In considering the nuisance posed by seagulls, the council had two options – destruction of birds, nests and eggs, or a more targeted approach to people that litter, whose food waste attracted the birds.

Councillor McDowall continued: “We decided to combine the roles of litter enforcement with dog fouling detection and enforcement by employing two additional officers, for a term of two years, dedicated to tackling the nuisance.

“For both, our aim will be to educate and inform the public with relevant campaigns, and to supplement the Dog Walker’s Charter, which we published in 2011, with a guide to walking your dog in South Ayrshire.

“We’ll be taking a zero-tolerance approach and we expect to recoup half the costs of the new posts from issuing penalty notices to offenders.”

The Council has also listened to local people in relation to dogs in public places, balancing those views with the legislation in place for walkers and the right to roam.

Councillor McDowall explained: “Our options for restricting dogs in public places must comply with the requirements of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and The Scottish Outdoor Access Code, sometimes referred to as the ‘right to roam’ - which includes being accompanied by a dog.”

The right to roam does not apply to school playgrounds and the council proposes that dogs, other than those invited by the Head Teacher, or those assisting a person with disabilities, can be refused permission to enter.

Children’s play areas are more complex as there is a right to roam, unless access would interfere with the use of the play park. The council is now recommending that dogs should not be brought into these areas unless on a short lead thus ensuring the safety of children.

Sports grounds (but only if not in use at the time), cemeteries and beaches all have a right to roam, but only if dogs are under proper control on a short lead of two metres or less.

Although there is a public right to cross a golf course, there is no right to roam or walk on greens.

Councillor McDowall added: “As well as bolstering our approach to dog fouling, we’re going to take a comprehensive approach to tackling the nuisance of seagulls, initially in Ayr.

“Part of this will involve an anti-litter campaign involving voluntary groups, the Police, schools, Ayr Renaissance and other stakeholders to reduce the amount of street litter and feeding opportunities for seagulls.

“Forty new ‘gull-proof’ litter bins will be deployed in various hotspots in around Ayr town centre and on the promenade. To complement this, we’ll be adding ‘gull-proof’ to 90 additional bins in the area, making it harder for gulls to pull litter from them.

“We’ve listened closely to what people have said and the council’s decision demonstrates our commitment and determination to crack down on those who think it’s acceptable to let dogs foul, or those who litter with no thought or regard to others, or the consequences of their actions.”