Hire poo patrol to end dog fouling in West Lothian

West Lothian should follow other councils and hire private contractors to target persistent dog fouling and fly-tippers with hefty fines.

By Stuart Sommerville, LDR
Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 6:00 am
Fly-tipping stock photo by John Devlin.

Livingston Conservative councillor Alison Adamson has suggested following neighbouring Midlothian Council, which agreed in August to investigate hiring private enforcers.

But there were concerns that similar teams in other parts of the UK have done little to actually reduce the problems, with the SNP suggesting the council should instead invest in more in-house enforcement officers.

Clearing up fly-tipping costs West Lothian around £50,000 a quarter and takes up 80 per cent of the time of the Neighbourhood Environment Teams.

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Livingston Conservative councillor Alison Adamson.

The council hired more staff earlier this year to help with fly-tipping clear-ups as well as the uplift of hundreds of bags of rubbish collected by local volunteers.

Under Midlothian proposals private firms could be handed contracts to provide the enforcers, in a scheme similar to the private parking attendants which replaced traffic wardens in some local authorities in Scotland. Reports on how a scheme would work will come back to that council.

At a meeting of the full council, Councillor Adamson suggested West Lothian should do the same, adding: “this work can be achieved at zero cost to the local authorities and, in turn, has the potential of providing more capacity to our hard‐pressed environmental health service for delivering specialist and technical public health and safety duties.”

Councillor Adamson said of her proposal: “It’s not replacing council staff. It is adding to their armoury.”

But the call for privatised enforcement was met with scepticism by other parties. The SNP rejected it outright, suggesting that the council should beef up staffing in its own enforcement teams.

Councillor Tom Conn, Labour’s executive councillor for the Environment, put forward an amendment suggesting the council “take no action at this time but instruct officers to submit a report to the Environment PDSP should Midlothian Council engage and transfer their statutory duties to a private contractor and the effectiveness of such an arrangement”.

Labour’s amendment won after a series of votes.