Scottish minister cries foul on council’s pooch poo plea

Wednesday June 21st 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

A minister has cried foul to a bid by Scottish Borders Council for a law change which would penalise dog owners who allow their pooches to poop on sports fields.

At a meeting of the full council in March members agreed to back a motion calling on Scottish Government to amend the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003.

Galashiels Lib Dem councillor Hannah Steel wanted an addition to the Act making it an offence for a person in charge of a dog to allow it to defecate at any time on sports pitches and play areas.

But in response, Siobhian Brown, Scottish Government minister for Victims and Community Safety, said there were no plans to change the law as it stands, while also accepting the health dangers from dog fouling.

Instead she has suggested the council look towards better signage and a publicity campaign to tackle the issue.

The minister said: “I sympathise with the challenges your council has raised especially as they involve children’s play areas and sports playing fields. I believe that the legislation as it stands provides sufficient powers and there are no plans to change it.

“Dog fouling waste is not only unsightly and unpleasant, but also potentially harmful to health – as you rightly note – and is particularly concerning when it comes to sport pitches, playing fields and children’s play areas.

“That is why the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 is in place, empowering local authority officials to issue fixed penalties to owners who fail to clean up after their dogs, and ensuring that any non-compliance with a notice could see further action taken.”

Scottish Borders Council is now to explore options on tackling dog fouling.

A report to next week’s full council states: “It is considered employing increased signage together with a targeted communications plan could possibly bring some benefit and has the potential to reduce the problem of fouling on sports pitches by raising better awareness of the issue.

“It is therefore proposed that council should consider whether to adopt these approaches in the Scottish Borders. It may be that the effectiveness of such an approach would best be assessed by trialling increased signage with targeted communications in one or two areas of the Borders. This would allow their impact to be monitored over a period of time.”

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