Michael Fabricant and Bob Blizzard (the Labour MP for Waveney in Suffolk) have joined forces to promote a Bill which would help control dog fouling and littering and give councils real muscle to enforce the law. The Bill, presented in Parliament today (Tuesday 14th January), allows councils to keep the money raised from issuing litter fixed penalty notices in order to employ more dog wardens and litter patrols. The ‘Litter and Fouling of Land by Dogs Bill’ is "not an anti-dogs bill", says Michael Fabricant. "It will control those irresponsible dog owners who consistently allow their pets to foul footways and common land. Every single day, 1,000 tons of dog faeces foul Britain’s roads and open spaces causing unpleasantness at one extreme and disease and blindness at the other to children and adults alike. And the poor council tax payer has to foot the bill to clean up afterwards.
"Littering and dog fouling are already against the law, but there is a very real problem in getting local councils to enforce it. Following a meeting with an anxious constituent at my surgery last Saturday, I have asked Lichfield District Council how many warnings were issued last year to dog owners who allowed their dogs to foul the land; how many repeat warnings were issued; and how many fixed penalty notices were issued. Both my constituent and I are concerned that without fixed penalty notices being issued, certain individuals will consistently offend causing considerable damage to the environment. I want Lichfield District Council to enforce the law and to issue fixed penalty notices for repeat offences. There has to be a very real deterrent: a fixed penalty notice begins at £50.
"Nationally, only 2,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued for dog fouling. Yet in Newcastle, which was given special dispensation to keep the revenues from fixed penalty notices instead of returning the money to the Treasury in London, the number of fixed penalty notices issued rose from just 9 in 2001 to 309 in 2002 and the streets and parks are now correspondingly cleaner and safer places.
"I recognise that councils like Lichfield District have very limited resources, particularly nowadays. My Bill would give Lichfield and other councils the resources to clean up their act for the benefit of all", adds Michael Fabricant.
The Bill received Commons assent for its first reading today and it goes to its next parliamentary stage in April.