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 Inside Out East: Monday September 8, 2003


Yorkshire Terrier cocking his leg
Great Yarmouth declares war on dog mess

Dogs - they may be man's best friend but they are the shoe's worst enemy! Inside Out pays a visit to 'dog mess capital' in Great Yarmouth to discover what's afoot!

They are Britain's best loved pet, over seven million of us own one and they provide a great excuse for getting up off the sofa and down to the park.

But beware - a moment's lapse in concentration can find a pleasant stroll turning into a sticky situation!

Dog mess is a nationwide problem but earlier this year, Great Yarmouth Council discovered that their streets fell well below the national average.

In Great Yarmouth one in three streets suffers from fouling in comparison to one in ten nationwide.

"There are problem areas in every town and village," says environmental ranger Paul Shucksmith. "Our's happens to be more prevalent in the town itself."

Inside Out gets to the bottom (no pun intended!) of the problem.

Eyes down

Flag indicating dog mess
X marks the spot - over 28 dog messes are found in a small grassy area

Armed with a hi-tec dog mess counting device… well flags on sticks, Inside Out sends Stephen Bumfrey to Blackfriars Road, dubbed 'dog mess capital' of the region.

In a small patch of grass in the city Stephen counts a staggering 28 messes, whilst the beach proves little better, clocking up a total of 15.

"I think that the dog owners who let their dogs foul the pavement are totally irresponsible," explains one pedestrian.

And she's not the only one who's unhappy. Responsible dog owners who always clear up after their pets are fed up of getting tarred with the same brush as offenders.

"I have a dog and I always clear up after her," insists one dog owner. "I see dog poo everywhere and it does irritate me because it gives us a bad name as dog owners."

Dirty videos

Environmental rangers
Paul and his team of environmental rangers wage war on dog mess

Great Yarmouth Council however is fighting back in the war against mess.

Paul Shucksmith is one of three environmental rangers employed in Great Yarmouth. Their task? To clean up the town.

Although fouling the pavements is illegal and punishable by fines of up to two thousand pounds, in the past it has proved a difficult law to enforce.

The council has not had a successful prosecution for two years and has even had

cases thrown out of court as there was no proof the owner was not going to return at a later date to tidy it up.

But this summer Paul and his teaming are trialling a brand new weapon - secret cameras.

The cameras will capture the offending owners in the act, providing concrete proof that they did not return to clear up.

Falling foul

Fouling the pavements is punishable by fines of up to two thousand pounds
Fouling the pavements is punishable by fines of up to two thousand pounds

Whilst war is being waged on the pavements, St Peterhouse First School in Gorleston is facing a battle of its own.

"Dogs have been getting into the school and it's been going everywhere," explains one pupil. "People have been standing in it and rolling in it and touching it."

A recent initiative asking parents to provide information about offenders was a failure so once again, the task falls to the environmental rangers.

The rangers explain the dangers of dog mess to pupils and advise on the necessary action should they come into contact with it.

Great Yarmouth is taking positive steps to rectify the problem of dog mess but the fight is far from over. And for the time being, on their return to Blackfriars armed with 'poo bags', Paul and his team are resigned to the fact that if you want a job doing properly, do it yourself!

See also ...

Inside Out: East
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BBC: Environment

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Great Yarmouth Borough Council
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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Toby Jacobs
Friars Meadow in Sudbury, Suffolk is a beautiful water meadow next to the River Stour. However, it is plagued by dog-fouling and the owners do not even bother to stray from the footpath, so the mess is right in your way. I am utterly disgusted at these people, who look old enough to know better!!!

Brenda Hammond
further to my previous e mail, pehaps you would like to film the dog litter bin as you enter bure park from jellicoe road, once again this is full and a pile of bags have been left by resposable owners at the side, may I ask how often does the local council empty these as I have had to phone them to be emptied in the past, come on Gt Yarmouth Borough Council, instead of spending money on video cameras spend a small amount of money to arrange for the bins to me empties on a regular basis. Don't decry the dog owners all the time, instead provide bins for them to use, it would be nice to see a few more bins around town.

Celia Bartlett
Saffron Walden is a beautiful town and we have been provided with ample poo bins to keep it beautiful. As a responsible dog owner I am more than happy to use these facilities. It just amazes me that on every gateway from Audley End park there are bins provided, but the area just inside the gateway is a minefield of dog poo.

What sort of a welcome is this for our foreign visitors using the public footpaths to the beautiful Audley End house? The excuse that it should be left to bio-degrade naturally on the side of the path just isnt good enough. Please, all you lazy, careless dog owners out there, dont give all of us responsible owners a bad name. Clear it up!

Sharon Bradley
Warden Hills in Luton, Beds is really pooey - but I clean up after my dog every time. There aren't even any poo bins on Warden Hills which might encourage people to scoop.

Mrs Debbie Tinsey
I nominate Crabtree Lane, Baldock, Hertfordshire. Since complaining to the North Herts District Council earlier this year, the new signs they put up have been vandalised, and the lane is still pooey (and smelly). They inform me (like I wasn't already aware), that it is an offense to fail to clear up after your dog, any information I could supply to them regarding any offender would be appreciated. Isn't that their job, not mine?!

Jack Edwards
the village hall playing field at taverham village hall,norwich, dogs poo around childrens play area and at the back of gates leading to field, children play daily after school, dog owners seen not clearing up mess.

David Charge
While I appreciate the BBC's attempts to help with this problem did we really need to see graphic, close-up footage of dog mess in this program's trailers, shown at tea time? Absolutely disgusting!

Helen Booker
Newton Road, Rushden, Northants - lots of inconsiderate dog owners leave their dog's mess on the paths. This road is a route to the local primary school and it is awful trying to dodge the dog mess whilst with young children/pushchairs etc. Please Please dog owners - be responsible!!

Mrs L Clayson
Wootton Fields near Northampton has a bad "poo" problem. Every day on the footpath to school we have to look out for "poo". On the playing field we have the same problem! Even picking blackberries last week I put my foot on some "poo".

How can people watch their dog "poo" and just walk away from it knowing that a poor little child may step on it? Would they like it on the bottom of their shoes?

Ian Harbord
the grass veige outside oulton Primary School Christmas Lane Oulton Broad Suffolk it is disgusting that people should be allowed to let there dogs do this outside a school.

Brenda Hammond
I was one of the responsable dog owners from great Yarmouth Dog traing Club, and I live near Bure Park, three weeks ago the poop bin on bure park was full and a pile of plastic bags at least 18 inches high was at the side of the bin, I phoned Great Yarmouth Borough Council informing them of this, but three days later this was still there, it took a phone call to Invormental health to get this removed.

On great yarmouth beach I have found fishing lines, knives etc. please do not always come down on the dog owners so hard, but look at the other dirt left by humans in our towns.

Sue Edwards
Where were the dog bins in your news clip? I live in Harlow where, like any other town, dog mess is a problem. There are not many bins to be able to dispose of dog faeces, and I have just been informed that Harlow Council are to install 30 new bins for this particular problem. 30 bins in a town the size of Harlow! Wow, me thinks that they are not thinking about this as in depth as they claimed! I am a responsible dog owner and pick up after my dog, as do many dog owners. As in most circumstances a minority of people make the rest look like criminals. However, why do these programmes always insist on tarring dog owners. Why never cats? The health risk is even stronger with these animals, and cat owners do not have to pick up cat mess! As a responsible dog owner I find it inexcusable to come out of my house and see cat's mess on my garden, pawprints/scratch marks on my car, and another dead baby bird on the path? Why are cat owners not given the same vindictiveness as dog owners?

Mrs Dawkins
The most pooey place i know is the whole of the Roman Hill area of Lowestoft in Suffolk.In particular Hill Road, Roman Road and Norwich Road.

Mark Davey
I believe Stilton near Peterborough must come a good 2nd.

Jenny Callaghan
Another problem is children who are allowed to walk their dogs without an adult present. They often don't clear up after the dog, especially if they are with their friends.

Michelle Stoker
We recently visited family in Blackpool and were pleased to see the "Bag it and Bin it" notices sprayed to the pavements - but they don't have BINS!!! I like to clean up behind my dog - but i'd like somewhere to put it!

Helen Parnell-Berry
East Park Street, Chatteris, Cambs. Its disgusting. Also the footpathe that links St Martins Rd with Glebelands School. Would the dog owners responsible for this mess like us to allow our children to defaecate in their front gardens???

Edward (aged 7) & Christian(aged 9)
Crow Hall Green, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth is disgusting because of lazy dog owners. They forget that parks are not just toilets for their pets. The only reason they let the dogs mess on the fields is because they do not want it in their own gardens and it saves them having to clear it up!!!

It is a similar problem with litter - We are disgusted with the attitude of too many people who believe that is their right to make our local parks into waste bins!! We do not like sitting infront of the TV all day, we like to play games on the field and not worry about getting poo over our shoes and clothes because it makes our Mum feel sick when she has to clean it off.

Mark Mitchell
The lane that runs between my house and the fakenham high school is a positive "Minefield of dog mess"my daughter has to hopscotch to playschool every day just to avoid it DISGUSTING!!!!And there are signs everywhere.

Eve Rosamond
harkilees way park braintree essex cm7 5qq area. there are two poo bins provided, these are not used enough. good doggie people use them, others don't. We know who they are, the dog warden know, but what happens NOTHING. if just one person was fined a grand and was named and shamed, most people who then clean up.

Helen Barker
Fitches Lane, Knodishall. As it is a foot path it is thought that no-one cares about the dog mess although there are young children and adults who don't own dogs using the path. I frequently step out of my back gate into some! There are dog poo bins in a couple of places along the path which is even more annoying......

Gary Jackaman
Inside Out is right to condemn irresponsible dog owners, who let their dogs foul on their pavement. I think if the council installed CCTV and fined the culprits, then these dog owners will be discouraged from letting their dog excrete on the pavements in the future.