The glamourous life of an MP: I spent part of Easter weekend on the streets of Newton and Hoole with two local councillors, Richard Beacham and Gill Watson, and a can of purple spray paint. We were identifying uncollected dog poo on the pavements and spraying it pink.
Dog poo is one of the most frequent complaints I get from constituents. Often people are embarrassed to raise it because they think it is too insignificant a matter to complain to an MP about.
But the way I look at it, even small things that can really bug you in the area around your home are important. It is often the smallest problems that cause the most aggravation. So, if it is bothering my constituents, it goes on my agenda.
This is doubly the case when the problem is so easily preventable. And dog poo is entirely preventable.
It isn’t the dogs’ fault. It is their owners. How hard is it to bring a couple of poo bags out with you when you go for a walk (the biodegradable ones are best), then clear up after the dog and dispose of it properly? But some owners just can’t be bothered, and it’s that attitude that riles me most.
It is the same with dropping litter or fly tipping: dump the problem and forget about it. Someone else will deal with it. It is a dreadful attitude.
The maximum fine for not clearing up after your dog is £1000. I would like to see a couple of these fines imposed and a picture of the culprits printed across the front page of the Chester & District Standard – that would send out a message to deter others.
Of course, we have to catch them first. Faced with cuts of £57 million, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s resources are strained and enforcement is harder.
Which is where the pink spray paint comes in. Volunteers go out once a week and spray the poo pink. The miscreant dog owners see this, see they are being monitored and are embarrassed into cleaning up after their pets.
It sounds crazy, but I am assured it works.
We also keep a log of where the poo is sprayed; then council workers will come and collect it in the following days and have noted a reduction in an area as the spraying programme progresses.
The best solution remains owners taking responsibility for their pets. But however small the problem, if it is a problem for residents, it is a problem for me.