Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is to explore the possibility of deploying a ‘poover’ to help tackle the dog fouling pandemic that has beset the borough.
The issue was raised at Council’s monthly meeting held on Monday, January 24 by Councillor Darryn Causby who expressed concern Council had failed to get on top of the issue of dog fouling which has become a widespread issue across the borough.
“I do not want to get into a whole debate about it but one of the issues we always face as councillors is that when there are issues around dog fouling we have to speak officers to try and get them out to clean it,” he said.
“I happened to notice the other day that Belfast City Council have a machine called Fido which, pardon the pun, effectively acts as a ‘poover’. It is a cart with with a suction device attached that will essentially clean dog foul off the streets.
“I have been inundated with complaints about this issue and want to propose that Council looks at it through the environmental services committee. We should consider putting the machine on the capital services list for expenditure or at least come up with some way to protect our employees.
“I am conscious some staff are having to get down and lift it themselves. There are other health and safety issues as well, particularly in relation to children across parks and round by schools and quite often at the end of garden paths.
“Hopefully it can be brought back through committee with a report detailing what Belfast are doing and there experience.”
Sinn Fein councillor Keith Haughian seconded the proposal and called for an innovative approach to be taken to tackle the problem.
“I would wholeheartedly second the proposal that more is brought to committee. This issue is not going away, in fact it is getting worse and that is a reflection on us as a council,” he said.
“We need to be asking other areas what they are doing and to come up with better ideas.
“It is fair to say although there is a lot of stuff that can divide us in this chamber, all of us will be united when it comes to these issues. When I speak to Alderman Stephen Moutray we can do nothing but agree that the dog fouling issue just seems to get worse and worse.
“It is a timely proposal in a sense. As we move towards the end of the pandemic, we can’t just go back to what we did before and hope that it works, we need to be more innovative so I am happy to second the proposal from Cllr Causby.”
Alderman Gareth Wilson, of the DUP, raised that back in March of 2018, whilst he was Lord Mayor, the council had procured a “state of the art cleaning machine” and wished to know where it was “residing”.
“It was quite an epic bit of kit, I know we have had the ‘poover’ but this was the Gladiator MaxVac MV-700 and it generated quite a bit of steam in the middle of Lurgan.
“I’m just curious as to why I haven’t seen it again since because I know there was a far bit of funding secured for it…it was around £70,000 from the Department for Communities. I’m just concerned that I haven’t seen it”.
Showing his support for the proposal, Council’s Lord Mayor Alderman Glenn Barr noted there has been a “massive rise” in dog ownership throughout the borough recently.
Councillor Kyle Savage noted it is not just the urban centres where the issue of dog fouling is a problem.
“The rural areas of Waringstown and Dollingstown are feeling it too. There is one lady I know has lifted 18 bags of dog poo, that is not acceptable it is not the dogs it is the irresponsible dog owners we need to be looking at,” he said.
“I agree with the two councillors before me we need to be looking at other areas of good practice and seeing what we can do to improve but it really lies with the dog owner.
“There are perhaps not enough people on the ground but it is totally irresponsible, dog owners need to wise up and clean up after themselves.”
Noting the problem is just as bad in Rathfriland as it is in Banbridge, Lurgan and Portadown, Councillor Paul Greenfield said he believes the problem is “getting worse”.
Thanking Cllr Causby for bringing the proposal forward, Councillor Declan McAlinden said dog fouling in rural areas has become “absolutely ridiculous”.
“We all see the figures for our town centres, but we need to see them for rural areas as well,” he said.
“Rural roads at the minute are a disgrace and recently I was driving past a local school and the youngsters were having to step over dog foul outside the school, it is absolutely ridiculous.”
With the proposal receiving the support of the chamber, officers will now draft and present a report on the issue to Council’s environmental services committee as soon as possible.