Town gets tough on litter and dog mess
A county town now has its own litter and dog mess warden as a trial scheme to toughen up on cleaning up continues.
Dog owner and residents in Church Stretton have turned out in droves to support a scheme to show "zero tolerance" to those who litter and fail to clean up after their dogs, those behind the drive said.
A pilot scheme "model plan" to do more to tackle the issue was drawn up by representatives of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Church Stretton Town Council and Shropshire Council this summer and is still being carried out.
Action taken has included a public meeting called on the issues, residents urged to sign up to a "clean dog-walkers pledge", town council and CPRE members trained in reporting littering offences - and a responsible warden to report to installed by the town council.
John Woolmer, of CPRE South Shropshire, said it was going well so far, with the possibility the scheme could be rolled out to other towns if successful in bringing down littering and dog fouling.
He said: "The consensus is that it's high time we took this seriously and it has been very well supported.
"Shropshire Council officers have said they simply can't be in Church Stretton all the time to catch people littering.
"But with our own warden and the help of dog walkers and others it means we hopefully can be witness to these things and report them."
He said there were also now a "small band" of people in the town who had been trained in reporting "environmental crimes", including himself and town councillors.
He said they had agreed a traffic-light system for repeat dog fouling offenders - first advising them that they needed to carry bags and clean up after their dogs, then warning them if they had not changed their ways after two weeks, then moving to prosecuting them if they still did not change after another two weeks."
Mr Woolmer said it was a first for local authorities to directly involve the public in helping report such offences, and he hoped it would "put some backbone" into the laws on flytipping, dog fouling, and graffiti.
The move came after Mr Woolmer discovered in a freedom of information request that only two fixed penalty notices were given out in south Shropshire between January 1 and October 1 in 2014 for littering, which he said was not good enough.
Councillor Mike Walker, Mayor of Church Stretton, said: "The town council considers it a priority to make the town a clean and safe environment for visitors and townsfolk alike."
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