Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pooper scooping volunteer fined after moving dog poo from pathway into the long grass

Community-spirited Peter Taylor was handed an £80 fine for clearing a park path of dog mess. The 61-year-old had just removed the dog dirt from a pathway in Central Forest Park in Hanley, Staffordshire when he was given the fixed penalty notice. Despite Peter not having a dog with him, the council worker issued him with a ticket after seeing him move the mess into nearby long grass. Stoke-on-Trent City Council officials have since cancelled the charge but Peter was reprimanded for not putting the mess in a bin. Peter, of Sneyd Green, said: "I clear the paths nearly every day. I go out and see where the mess is then I go out with a shovel and throw it in the long grass, but apparently I'm not supposed to do that.

"They told me to leave it where it is and they will come out and remove it." Peter said he threw the mess into the grass because the nearest bin is around 300 yards away from the path which runs behind his home. He said he also tidies up after school kids who dump their rubbish in the park and is so keen the city council provided him with a litter picker six months ago. The city council cancelled the charge, which dropped to £50 if paid within a week, after several phone calls from Peter. He added: "They said, 'once you have touched something it is your responsibility', which sounds ridiculous to me. I couldn't believe it. They weren't going to cancel it straight away. I had to argue about it over three or four phone calls.

"They were trying to penalise someone who picks up litter all the time. The dog mess up that end of the park is terrible. I told them I won't bother doing it anymore. You can't blame me for that. I've lived here for 25 years but the mess has only started to get bad when they did the paths up about six years ago. One day there were about 20 lots of dog mess in that area." Peter's wife Sonia Taylor added: "I think it's absolutely disgusting. He was moving other people's dog's mess so no-one would step in it. The mess here is disgusting. You don't know where to walk. There's dog fouling everywhere and nobody bothers picking it up. They just walk off and leave it and when we try to move it we get fined."

Nick Bentley, the city council's environment manager, said: "We recognise that Mr Taylor was trying to clear the footpath, but by putting the dog waste into the undergrowth he was just transferring the problem to another area where children could play. We have withdrawn the fine notice, as he has now made clear his good intentions, especially in the light of his record of voluntary work for the local environment. What was unacceptable was the verbal abuse which Mr Taylor unleashed on our enforcement officer, who was only trying do her job keeping the streets clean and safe for the community. Dog muck is our number one complaint and we are trying to tackle the issue. We have issued Mr Taylor with a letter explaining to him the legal issues associated with clearing up dog muck. We want to work with people who want to do the right thing. There are good intentions on both sides here and a misunderstanding about motives."

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