DOG walkers in Blaenau Gwent could be hit with the highest fines in the UK in a fortnight’s time if they fail to clean up after their pets.
At a meeting yesterday, the cabinet approved plans to increase the charge for leaving dog mess on the ground from £75 to £125, with £25 deducted if the fine is paid within a fortnight.
The executive approved the proposal unanimously at their meeting at Ebbw Vale Civic Centre, and the charges will come in from April 14.
Currently, Bridgend and Gwynedd councils have the highest charges in Wales, at £100, reduced to £60 if paid within ten working days for those caught in Gwynedd.
The rest of the Welsh councils impose a £75 fine, while the statutory maximum fine in England is £80. The typical fine is Scotland is £40.
Since fixed penalties for dog fouling were issued by a private firm in Blaenau Gwent on September 21 2011, more than 4,000 fines have been issued, totalling more than £300,000.
If the new charge had been in place, that figure would be £500,000.
Councillors said this would send a strong message that not picking up after your pet would not be tolerated.
Four officers from Kingdom Security, the company with the contract to enforce the fines, cover Blaenau Gwent. Two of them are full-time staff paid an hourly rate, while two further officers are empoyed. When the higher fines come in the company will be paid £45 for each fine collected and the council £80. Previously the council would take only £25 from each fine.
One dog walker, Julian Price, 48, from Blaina, said: “I know people who have been fined even when there wasn’t a sign to say it wasn’t allowed. It’s quite sneaky and it’s a lot of money, especially for people who do not work.”
A Blaenau Gwent council spokeswoman said she believed the crackdown had led to cleaner streets
She said: “It’s definitely making an impact. We are proactively enforcing littering and dog control offences. We ask people to dispose of their waste in a considerate manner.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to catching the people responsible for dropping litter and letting their dogs foul and this sends out a strong message that this type of behaviour is just not acceptable.”