in Shaftesbury

Dog poo is inevitable, both for the dog and the councillor. Sooner or later it will be an issue. I was aware of this even as a school boy when having a history teacher who was also a local councillor could lighten even the darkest moments of world history. All it took was a reference to the latest leaflet in his crusade to (we paraphrased, chortle) ‘stamp out dog poo’. How we laughed.

But it is a quality of life issue. People rather like living in relatively clean streets. The fact it is becoming an issue again in the Shaftesbury Estate was highlighted to me as I checked email on my phone yesterday while doing a Poo-shoi Ballet impression around the post-digestive remnants of Pedigree Chum smeared over the Ashbury Road pavement by (I assume) an unlucky child on their way to the school. And what emails popped up? Another resident complaint about the issue and a response from the council to my attempt to get something done.

I’ve mused on dog turds before, sadly it’s not a terribly inspirational topic and it’s hard to come up anything new to say. The council have the same problem. It’s an issue of education and awareness, and they had a session on the Shaftesbury Park Estate last December talking to over 30 dog-owners about the issue.

The problem, it seems, is that it was the dog owners they didn’t meet that are causing the problems. It’s certainly my, and many other people’s, subjective opinion the issue has got worse. (I’m afraid I’ve not quite started keeping detailed statistics on the phenomenon, so objective proof is beyond me.)

Several have pointed the finger at the removal of the litter bins that were, until recently, on the estate and it’s hard not to think there is a correlation, if not causal, link. I did ask the council to consider reinstatement of these, or at possibly even the introduction of some dog fouling bins but the idea got short shrift.

To be fair I think the council’s argument that the bins created more problems (like fly-tipping) than they solved has some merit. Likewise, this has long been a problem on the Shaftesbury Estate, in my old campaigning days people coming to help from other parts of the borough, and even other boroughs, would comment negatively on how bad the problem was. One Westminster campaigner told me in no uncertain terms how bad it was before leaving me to clear up the dog turd he’d unknowingly smeared over the hall carpet.

Wandsworth is not the council it once was, street cleaning is one of those areas that have degraded and there has to be an adjustment of expectations from residents. But there are some standards that we should not see lowered. The daily game of Poo-ssian roulette (I have lots of these puns) is not one residents should be expected to endure.

Despite my sympathy for the ‘irresponsible owner’ argument I can’t help coming to the conclusion that the council should be doing a little more in the area to tackle the problem: they are, after all, the only ones with the authority to enforce the by-laws relating to dogs. So I’m asking them to undertake some more active work on the estate to tackle the problem in the hope it will see an improvement to the cleanliness of the pavement.

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