Over the last couple of years, we have tried all sorts of things in an effort to reduce the amount of dog mess around the village, in particular, on the public footpaths; nothing, yet, has worked.
Over the Christmas period, we received yet more complaints from villagers and it was quite clear that the situation was getting worse and not better. What was also clear was that some dog-owners, who are normally rarely seen around the village, were walking their dogs more than usual. It’s very tempting to think this may be cause and effect. Worse still, we now have at least one objectionable individual who see fit to bag-up their dog’s waste, then leave it and the bag in a hedgerow. Really!
It’s also been suggested that the Parish Council should provide a dog-poo bin down by the entrance to the meadow. There are several reasons why this is not a viable option, not least because we already know the idea is flawed and will fail. First, compare the ends of the two tracks that lead to Berwick St James. Most of the dog mess is found at our end. Now the nearest bin for disposal of waste in Berwick St James is that at the end of Duck Street, about 0.5 km from the start of the footpath. At the Winterbourne Stoke end, there are 3 waste bins suitable for disposal of bagged dog-poo within a very similar distance; two on Church Street and one on the A303. That strongly suggests that bins aren’t the answer – people are too idle to carry their dog-poo bags a short distance to a bin, or home.
An even more outrageous example is that one of the bins in Winterbourne Stoke lies at the end of the worst-fouled footpath, leading eastwards from the village, past Old Glebe Farmhouse. So, no point wasting money to erect a dog-poo bin close to a footpath, as some can’t seem to use a bin already provided right on the footpath.
So, what can we do? Well, in desperation, the Parish Council is looking at ways by which we can offer a reward for information and evidence that lead to a criminal conviction of an irresponsible dog owner. We will be pushing for the maximum fine of £1,000, in the hope the message will finally get through.
UPDATE: See comments below. Here is just one example of one of Wiltshire Council’s “serviced” dog poo bins. Actually, whilst not pleasant, this is quite a “good” example as there is no mound of bags on the ground underneath it. Until recently, there was one in Tidworth, near the entrance to Tedworth House, which had a foot-high mound of bags on top of it and a two-foot high pile underneath. I think the bin has now been removed – in disgust – and folks told to take their dog poo home. I personally favour cutting-out having such an experience in the first place and am happy to clear up after my own dog and take the bag home for disposal; it’s part and parcel of responsible dog ownership.