To provide members with an update on enforcement activity (report of the Executive Director Place enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Place Manager, which provided members with an update on enforcement activity.
Enforcement activity at the authority was extensive, and included planning enforcement, contraventions of building regulations, littering, fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour, abandoned vehicles, evictions, possessions, prohibition orders, food safety, health and safety, licensing, noise nuisance and pollution.
All departments dealing with enforcement did so in line with the Enforcement Policy agreed at Cabinet on 29 May, ensuring they took enforcement action when proportionate and necessary to do so.
Members of the Performance Monitoring Panel and the Policy Development Panel had both requested information on enforcement across the authority. Officers across all relevant council services had reviewed all enforcement information that the Council held. A suite of performance indicators to compliment the new Corporate Enforcement Policy had been developed.
The report provided members with an update on enforcement activity across three levels – advice/warnings; formal notices; and prosecution. It was intended that these updates would be provided on a six monthly basis.
In discussing the report, the following key points emerged:
Officers gave an overview of the work and role of the dog warden. The prime function was control of the animals, meaning; catching, kennelling, returns to owners and enforcement of fouling matters. The warden was authorised to spray stencils and put up signs in problem areas, and also to request the implementation of dog waste bins. It was stated that the warden was also responsible for liaising with the Police in respect of dangerous dogs and Hare Coursing dogs.
The Chairman asked what area of activity was covered by the dog warden, and where their authority stretched to in terms of dealing with dog fouling. It was stated that the areas the warden was responsible for was the majority of public open spaces, as detailed in the SHDC Dog (Fouling of Land)Order 1999. Officers also stated that the newly appointed community wardens could also assist in similar roles meaning that warden coverage would appear to be greater in the future.
The Chairman suggested that the wardens had not yet been particularly present in the south of the district. He worried that Parish Councils would be asked to take part of the burden but that this was unacceptable, and that they should be entitled to their fair share of use of the wardens.
Members stated that they were incredibly happy with the current dog warden who was demonstrably willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the highest possible level of service. They felt that the community wardens should be moving around the district and consulting with parish councils in order to generate contacts.
Members felt that the community wardens should be introduced to Councillors in order to familiarise them with each other.
Members asked if fixed penalty notices could be publicised in newspapers to highlight the work of the wardens.
Members asked how issues could be reported to wardens. Officers stated that this could be done through the ‘report this’ button on the website. Members followed up, by asking if there was a financial benefit to Fixed Penalty Notices. Officers stated this was the case, but that the money would need to go back into the service.
Members asked if the numbers and therefore costs of flytips had increased due to outlying towns having their ‘Saturday Morning Collection Service’ stopped last year. Officers confirmed that comparison data would be provided on the numbers of flytips and cost associated with clearance over the last 3 years.
The Chairman had noticed the successful prosecutions, he asked if the fines issued had been collected. Officers stated that they would look into this. Members asked if the costs of prosecution had been asked for and available. It was responded that this info was collected as part of the process
The Chairman asked how it was ensured that all fines, court costs and so forth were collected in line with the enforcement policy. Officers confirmed they would clarify the payment and collection process.
a) That the content of the report be noted; and
b) That a further update report be provided to the Panel in six months time.