A Letter to the Editor from Geoff COOPER of Bournemouth, in response to our “Pooper Scooper” article exposing Scarborough Borough Council’s aggressive exploitation of the dog-fouling laws as a low-overhead revenue-stream.
Dear Mr Editor,
I read with interest your report on the unfortunate Crispy. It was a similar, but less extreme, incident 10 years ago that started me on the campaign road, scrutinising the mechanics of local government.
I was walking my three cocker spaniels on a public park at around 8.a.m. when I heard some shouting. Looking back I could see two men waving and shouting and pointing to the most elderly of my three dogs,who was lagging a bit behind. I turned and went back to see what had happened, (they clearly were not going to chase after me) as my first impression, judging by the noise they were making, was that someone had died.They asked me if the dog was mine and then informed me that she had ‘dumped’. I apologised and picked it up, at which point I was asked for my name and address and warned that anything I said may be taken down and used in evidence against me in a Court of Law.
These guys were wearing Bournemouth Parks Dept sweatshirts. They were gardeners. I asked them for proof of identity, which being gardeners they either did not have, or were not going to give me. I refused to give them my details, put my dogs back in the car and drove away, noticing as I did so, that the Council van our heroes had arrived in had been left with the doors open, the engine running and on double yellow lines, such was their haste to apprehend the perpetrator of this act of villainy.
One month later I received in the post a fixed penalty notice for £50. The original amount of £25 had been crossed out and £50 written in biro over the top. That they had used the DVLA to trace me was evident as the FPN was made out in the name of Mr.Cooper, no initials. The car I was using that morning was registered in my wife’s name. They could not even be bothered to check the electoral roll for my details and sent the ticket on the assumption that as the car belonged to Mrs. Cooper then it must have been her husband driving, not her boyfriend, lover, lodger, relative or friend. A dangerous assumption to make.
However, model citizen that I am, and naïve at the time in the ways that Council operated, after a few letters of dissention without ever admitting liability, I sent a cheque for £50 made out by a friend, in his name. This seemed to create a good deal of confusion as they waited for one month before banking their ill-gotten gains.
I subsequently discovered that it was general Council policy to send under-employed members of staff out onto the streets and into the parks,armed with books of fixed penalty tickets. Astonishingly,even trained and qualified environmental health inspectors were dispatched in quiet times to raise a few bob.
Keep up the good work. We at “A Better Bournemouth” are fighting the same battle. Send us a journalist and we will start a ‘sister’ newspaper.
Geoff COOPER, Bournemouth. 6th July, 2014.