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Questions over strategy to tackle dog waste in Sandwell after complaints from residents

A strategy to tackle dog waste in Sandwell will be expected “in the near future”, the council leader said, after a councillor said residents in his ward have been waiting two years for dog bins.

A dog foul bin in Thimblemill Brook, in Sandwell

Councillor David Fisher, the leader of the opposition for Sandwell Conservatives, said: “We all know the importance of using litter and dog waste bins, this not only helps keep our streets clean and tidy, but helps the environment and wildlife. We should be encouraging Sandwell residents to use litter and dog bins as much as possible.

“Before I was elected back in 2021, I was campaigning for new litter bins for Charlemont with Grove Vale ward, to replace the ones that were in poor condition or vandalised. I also asked for new bins for several locations, that haven’t got any bins at all.

“For the past two years I have been told new bins will be rolled out across the borough, including Charlemont with Grove Vale, and I’m still waiting. I think the residents of Charlemont with Grove Vale have been patient and waited long enough, so can the cabinet member please give me a date, when we will see the bins that were removed, replaced in Charlemont With Grove Vale?”

In response, Kerrie Carmichael, the leader of Sandwell council, said councillor Fisher’s question was “very long”. A council strategy to clean up dog waste was expected to be heard in the council “in the near future”.

In a pre-written statement on behalf of councillor Zahoor Ahmed, the cabinet member for environment services, who was not in attendance, councillor Carmichael said: “I’ve been working hard to audit and assess the current stock of bins across the borough. This audit has identified more than 1,300 scrapings, which are a mixture of freestanding bins, bins on lampposts bins on railings, single bins, double bins, recycling bins, and dog waste bins.

“We are currently in the process of procuring support to develop a street bin strategy that will help standardise and structure our approach. This will help us ensure we have the right bin in the right location, emptied at the right time.”

It comes after a total of 3,062 dog fouling incidents were recorded by the council between 2019 and 2021. The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) previously reported of that total,  only six people were handed a fine.

During the same meeting, a motion on dog waste tabled by Conservative councillors William Gill and Scott Chapman. The motion called for Sandwell council to work with Serco to explore the option of introducing a local database of ‘dog DNA’ to trace, fine, and bill people who leave their dog waste on Sandwell’s streets.

Councillor Gill said: “We are getting close to an election, so we are all knocking on doors. I have lost count on the amount of people that have mentioned issues about dog waste on our street.

“Just to name a few areas in my ward that have been mentioned as a particular issue, the Cotterills Farm estate, the Denby estate, especially around Middlemeadow, have said this is an issue that is rearing its ugly head for far too often.”

Councillor Gill said the council need to “recognise and reaffirm its duty to ensure Sandwell’s streets are safe and clean” and requested for two reports on dog waste and how to tackle it be brought back to councillors during the 2023/34 municipal year.

Councillor Chapman added he would welcome “any campaign” that would reduce dog waste in Sandwell.

Labour councillor Julie Webb asked the Conservatives whether they had “costed it up”. Richard McVittie, another Labour councillor, claimed over £700 million worth of austerity cuts to the council’s budget over the years, had some impact.

“You have to witness it happening. You have to approach people. That’s something I think the council would struggle to do. Bins aren’t the issue, by putting in 100 bins doesn’t mean more people are going to collect the poo.

“If a council has a resource it can support, it should be on enforcement, not on ‘dog poo DNA'”.

Labour councillor Olwyen Jones said she had previously campaigned on dog waste in Wednesbury. She asked Sandwell council if dog waste machines could be fitted, but was told by the council it would “encourage people to leave dog mess on the floor”.

She said she took her campaign to Riverside – an affordable housing company in Sandwell. “They actually brought a machine, paid for it themselves, it didn’t cost a lot of money. They used their guys in Wednesbury South to clean it up […] it doesn’t cost that much. They also installed special drains to clean the machines up. I don’t see why you can’t go down that route again – the guys are all covered in overalls.”

Labour councillor Parbinder Kaur showed the council chamber a photo of dog waste in a private garden. “Dogs poo on pavements, but it’s also happening in residents gardens. So what are we going to do about that as well?”

Labour councillor Luke Giles said: “We can have all the things in the world put in place to tackle dog waste, but if owners don’t pick the dog mess up, then it’s about respect, and I think that is key.”

The motion was carried.

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