DOG owners in Wrexham have been urged to clear up after their pets in public places or risk fines.
The leader of Wrexham Council has said that if he could, he would increase fines for owners who let their dogs foul and do not pick up after them.
Council leader Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard’s comments came at an Executive Board meeting where the authority’s leadership committed to renewing Wrexham’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).
PSPOs are one of a number of tools and powers councils and their partners have in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
It enables council enforcement officers and police to deal with issues such as anti-social behaviour or dog fouling with £75 fixed penalty fines issued.
Rossett Cllr Hugh Jones (Con), lead member for the environment, told councillors that there was evidence the order needed to continue.
Ruabon Cllr Dana Davies (Lab) sought assurances Nine Acre Field would be included, which were given by Cllr Hugh Jones who said the order covers the whole county borough.
Grosvenor Cllr Marc Jones (Plaid) asked how many tickets had been issued for dog fouling as residents had expressed concern enforcement is not taking place in local parks.
Cllr Hugh Jones answered that it was difficult to catch owners “in the act”, but nine tickets in three years had been handed out for dog fouling.
“The order is there as a prevention and therefore the success of the order is not necessarily judged by the number of tickets issued”, he said.
“Over the previous three years of the current order we issued 29 tickets, 20 of those related to dogs being in an inappropriate place, nine were issued for dog fouling.
“Owners are unlikely to allow their dogs to foul when they see somebody wearing a uniform or someone who looks official.”
Hermitage Cllr Graham Rogers expressed frustration that the council does not have the number of staff required to carry out enforcement.
He said: “I’ve got a park in Hermitage with numerous languages put in place (signs) explaining to the public. The stark reality is you see people enter the park and the first thing they do is let the dog off the lead and they wander.
“As a consequence of that people are playing on their phones, dogs are making a mess and it’s not being picked up. The same thing applies in the streets.
“You see some owners, you approach them, and they are quite respectful to you. With other owners all you get is a mouthful of abuse.”
But Cllr Hugh Jones admitted it was unlikely the council would be able to recruit more enforcement staff in the current financial situation.
He said: “I cannot see in the current financial situation any changes being made.”
“A vast majority of people in the county borough are law-abiding and want to behave appropriately.
“If time improves and we can have more wardens I’d love to have more wardens, but the situation is at the moment my honest answer is it’s highly unlikely in the current economic climate.”
Council leader Cllr Mark Pritchard spoke of how his community council, Esclusham, had purchased more dog bins and handed out thousands of free dog bags to residents but it was still not enough.
He added that if legislation allowed for fines to be increased he would be happy to hit irresponsible dog owners in the pocket.
Cllr Pritchard said: “We do have responsible dog owners but unfortunately in society we have dog owners who are not responsible and anyone who allows their dog to foul on a football pitch or an area of public open space where children play deserves a fine. I hope we catch more.
“If I could increase the fines I would, I can assure you.
“It is a difficult one and in my ward I still have complaints from residents about dog fouling and we do a lot.
“There’s nothing worse than when toddlers, children, boys and girls are playing on a football pitch, six, eight, 10 years old, and they slide in dog muck, they’re covered in it, and they have to go to the changing rooms to get changed.
“That’s because of irresponsible dog owners, I’ve got no sympathy for them allowing their dogs to foul in these areas.”
The Executive Board voted to renew the PSPO.