18 Apr 2009

Full Council: 50 mins on dog poo

On Monday I was quoted under a headline "Green fears over leaflet drops" - well more of that in a moment with the dog poos but first a very brief summary of some of the other issues raised at Thursdays' Full Council meeting...

Photo below: view of Ebley Mill from Randwick

Well there was the Interim Sustainable Communities Strategy - Greens have made many comments about this in the past (see for example here) and are drafting a letter about how we want to see the main strategy develop - certainly this is wholly inadequate as it is at the moment as it tags on cliamte change as if it is an extra point like others rather than setting it at the heart of policy. The Sustainable Communities Bill was finally passed - Greens put a motion in a while back - see here.

Both Stroud and Nailsworth planning strategies were passed - great stuff, there was also a report from the Scrutiny committee I sit on plus the Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy - something many opposition councillors voted against as it appears a reduction in service to disabled members of the community. Greens also raised many concerns re changes to the way Parishes and individuals may object to applications - more on that soon in a separate blog....

OK to the 'Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act - and Fixed Penalty Notices' - here is how THe Citizen reported it before the meeting...

FEARS that new laws tackling litter could silence free speech have been allayed by district council leaders. But Green Party members want to know more about legislation allowing leaflet distributors to be fined for handing out material that is dropped in the street. As The Citizen reported last week, anyone caught dropping litter in Stroud could be fined £75 and that would extend to "unauthorised distribution of literature". The legislation is expected to be passed by Stroud District Council on April 16.

Campaigners, activists, pressure groups and political parties often hand out flyers to Stroud town centre shoppers and Stroud district councillor Philip Booth, (Green, Over Stroud) was concerned it might affect legitimate political activity. SDC's Conservative administration has moved to allay those concerns but Coun Booth said: "I would have concerns that it could be imposed on small businesses who use leaflets and flyers. I would want to know more about the legislation. The existing legislation is sufficient to cover the problem."

If the council passes the new laws under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, anyone caught abandoning a car, dropping litter, daubing graffiti, damaging bins, not clearing up dog mess, or causing nuisance parking could be hit with a fixed penalty fine of between £75 and £200. Coun Joe Forbes (C, Minchinhampton), SDC cabinet member for community safety, made it clear there are exemptions from the legislation. The act gives councils the option to make an order to prohibit the unauthorised distribution of printed material to try and prevent the significant problems of littering associated with free leaflets, most of which end up on the floor only a few metres from where they are handed out," he said.

"It is primarily designed to prevent the big problems of litter in city centres, caused by the handing out of pub or club flyers. These glossy flyers are hard for street sweeper machines to pick up. This isn't a major problem within our district. However, it is important to include them in the council report, so that members are aware of the breadth of the legislation. There are also exemptions to the order, notably the handing out of leaflets by charities, or where the distribution is for political purposes or for the purposes of a religion."


Well I have to say I was deeply disappointed that despite starting to ask my questions several weeks ago I did not get answers to all the issues I raised before Council however I was somewhat reassured at the meeting and talking to Officers about the Council's plans for use of these Fixed Penalty Notices - about the fact that education would be a priority before issuing them. I still though wonder if there are not better ways than such fines and as for the 'unauthorised literature' who authorises it? We should note that while our current officers and members are fine the powers could possibly be abused in the future...and hey this is yet more legislation - Labour have brought in literally hundreds of new laws since they came to power - laws upon laws don't necessarily make us a more cohesive and safer society....at least they seemed to have recognised that their CCTV culture has gone too far - see Guardian here.

In the end Council spent what seemed like more than an hour on discussing dog poo and litter - yes I know it is an important issue and can blight many communities but hey this was the issue we spent most time discussing not climate change or......and it was not the most constructive discussion - and yes I know the stuff is dangerous - indeed a doctor has told me that my mothers' toxiplasmosis (often caught from dog poo) prior to having me could have led to my less strong immune system....anyhow I was going to write more but have another appointment so must dash and save this for another time...

9 comments:

Joker said...

50 minutes would be worth it if they could sort the problem out.

Hey, how 'bout dog licences?

Philip Booth said...

There is much to be said for dog licenses - another related serious issue is status dogs:
http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2008-09-08-rspca.html

Joker said...

I wonder why it is that ever since you deleted one of my comments, I've been 'Joker' instead of 'Joe'?

Like, I'm a clown, I amuse you..?

Philip Booth said...

I can't change the name of those leaving comments - assume you have done that as the comment is set up to link to 'Joker'

Joker said...

The comment was set up to be attributed to 'Joe', self-evidently, looking back at the 'Incinerator campaign takes to streets of Gloucester blog - http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com/2009/03/incinerator-campaign-takes-to-streets.html. If it defaulted to 'Joker', it did so after you took issue with something I wrote (although you weren't clear which 'accusations' were giving you a problem. The one about the guy who clearly is homophobic?), and removed my post.

I have no idea how to change it back, so now you're stuck with Joker.

So, how bad is the 6th best green booger?

Philip Booth said...

As noted I have no control over names of those leaving comments and remove comments that I consider are offensive - there are more appropriate / fairer ways of making the accusations you made that allow for the individual to respond - this blog is not that forum/place.

Joker said...

I still don't know which 'accusation' you had a problem with, Phil? That Person A wasn't apparently doing the job of getting other organisations working with Fair Shares (I'm fairly certain I said 'if'), or that Person B was a homophobe (which isn't in dispute given the letter he sent to the Citizen about the Gay Pride march in Gloucester a few years ago. Ask Robin Agascar).

Is this the right forum/place to ask if you really have any intention of finding out if Fair Shares are just treading water now, instead trying to invigorate the community? How about Transition Stroud and the local currency? A dozen long paragraphs (with pictures) on those topics, please.

Philip Booth said...

As you may know from the Glos Green party website, I and other Greens have challenged homophobia in the local papers - I don't recall the specific incident you note but have responded to similar - if you are pursuing a complaint with that organisation or another then depending on the nature we can consider supporting but we are a small party with limited resources. As noted I have already passed on your concerns and noted their reply. Much as I would love to help every key local organisation with potential to make an even bigger difference I have to accept I can't - I've already written much on Transition Stroud and the local currency as I am involved - and will write more - I am sure as the project progresses there will be overlaps with many other projects - on that note I must go to work...

Anonymous said...

See Cllr Andrew Stringer's simple solution re dog poos in certain settings - endorsed by Caroline Lucas:

http://www.buryfreepress.co.uk/stowmarket/Dog-mess-no-more-in.5200184.jp