A community-spirited resident has been slapped with an £80 fine for littering – after he was spotted CLEANING a path of dog mess.
Shocked Peter Taylor, 61, scooped up dog dirt from a footpath near his home and put it in long grass when he was seen by a council officer.
He was issued with an £80 on-the-spot fixed penalty for littering and threatened with legal action and a £2,500 fine if he refused to pay up.
Peter was cleaning the path in Hanley’s Central Forest Park near his home in Sneyd Green, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., on December 9 when he was stopped by a council worker.
Peter said: “I clear the paths nearly every day.
“I go out and see where the mess is then I go out with a shovel and throw it in the long grass, but apparently I’m not supposed to do that.
“They told me to leave it where it is and they will come out and remove it.
“They said, ‘once you have touched something it is your responsibility’, which sounds ridiculous to me.
“I couldn’t believe it. They weren’t going to cancel it straight away. I had to argue about it over three or four phone calls.
“They were trying to penalise someone who picks up litter all the time.
“The dog mess up that end of the park is terrible. I told them I won’t bother doing it anymore. You can’t blame me for that.
“I’ve lived here for 25 years but the mess has only started to get bad when they did the paths up about six years ago. One day there were about 20 lots of dog mess in that area.”
Peter’s wife Sonia, 71, added: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting. He was moving other people’s dog’s mess so no-one would step in it. The mess here is disgusting. You don’t know where to walk.
“There’s dog fouling everywhere and nobody bothers picking it up. They just walk off and leave it and when we try to move it we get fined.”
Despite Peter not having a dog with him, the council worker issued him with a ticket after seeing him move the mess into nearby long grass.
Peter said he threw the mess into the grass because the nearest bin is around 300 yards away from the path which runs behind his home.
In a letter from Brian Tomkinson, Investigations Officer for Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Peter was told: “Please find enclosed a fixed penalty notice.
“This being issued to you as you were witnessed throwing down/depositing litter on Monday, 9 December 2013 at 10:55 hours, at Sneyd Street walk way, Stoke-on-Trent.
“The Fixed Penalty Notice is for the sum of £80. If you fail to pay this Fixed Penalty within 14 days of the date of this notice, proceedings will be issued and you could be liable for conviction at the magistrate’s court, which could result in a fine of up to £2,500.00.”
Peter tidies up after school kids who dump their rubbish in the park and is so keen the council provided him with a litter picker six months ago.
The council have since cancelled the charge but Peter has been reprimanded for not putting the mess in a bin.
Nick Bentley, the city council’s environment manager, said: “We recognise that Mr Taylor was trying to clear the footpath, but by putting the dog waste into the undergrowth he was just transferring the problem to another area where children could play.
“We have withdrawn the fine notice, as he has now made clear his good intentions, especially in the light of his record of voluntary work for the local environment.
“What was unacceptable was the verbal abuse which Mr Taylor unleashed on our enforcement officer, who was only trying do her job keeping the streets clean and safe for the community.
“Dog muck is our number one complaint and we are trying to tackle the issue.
“We have issued Mr Taylor with a letter explaining to him the legal issues associated with clearing up dog muck. We want to work with people who want to do the right thing.
“There are good intentions on both sides here and a misunderstanding about motives.”