Dog mess costs visitor to Ipswich more than £400

It is an offence to allow your dog foul a public space.

It is an offence to allow your dog foul a public space.

A dog owner has been left with a bill of more than £400 after she refused to clear up after her pet on the streets of Ipswich.

She was served with a fixed penalty notice – but failed to pay an this week the case was taken to the South East Suffolk Magistrates Court.

Susan Bell, who gave her address as Whitehaven in Cumbria, was seen walking the dog – a Staffie-type – by a borough council enforcement officer on the river path off Bramford Road on February 18.

The officer saw the dog make a mess and asked Ms Bell to clear it up – and pointed out it was an offence to allow her dog to foul a public place.

Ms Bell said that she hadn’t got any bags. The officer asked for details and she said that she lived in Cumbria, but was visiting her boyfriend in Ipswich.

She was told she would be reported for the offence and may receive a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice in the post. Ms Bell apologised and a fixed penalty notice was sent out the next day. On 24 March it was unpaid so IBC sent out a reminder.

On 30 March, the same enforcement officer recognised Ms Bell walking the same dog. He asked why she had not paid the fine to which she said that she had not received the notice.

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On July 1 the officer took a copy of the original notice and Final Reminder along with a letter warning of an impending court action addressed to Ms Bell by hand to the boyfriend’s house in Yeoman Close.

The boyfriend said he would pay it that day. He did not do so and it remained unpaid, so the council started court proceedings.

Ms Bell did not attend at court earlier this week and did not send any mitigation, but magistrates proved the case in her absence.

She was fined £150, with £233 costs and a victim’s surcharge of £20, a total of £403.

A council spokesman said: “Failing to clean up after your dog is a serious offence and if a fixed penalty notice is ignored we will take action. This incident has cost the defendant £400 and could have been avoided.”

Council portfolio holder Phil Smart said the case should help deter others: “We try to keep our streets as clean as possible and it is very unpleasant when people do not clean up after their dogs.

“To some extent we rely on luck to catch those who do not clean up – but when we do identify them we will pursue the case and I am glad the courts took this so seriously.”

Leiston-based campaigner Andrew Hawes – who achieved international fame earlier this year when he confronted pet owners who did not clean up mess in the town – was delighted to hear about the case.

He said: “I’m really glad the court imposed such a high penalty – as they should. This is a filthy habit and it ought to be stamped out (although not literally in this case!).”