Councillor Matt Harmer on Dog Mess And Planning

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* A foul subject *

Just to show that summer is over I wanted to bring us all down to earth by talking about dog mess.

Hope that got your attention. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I received an email from one of our excellent Safer Neighbourhood Team (our local police). They wanted to do something about people who let their dogs off the lead to foul in the parts of St Paul’s Recreation Ground where dogs are supposed to be kept on the leash. (That’s most of the park, for those who don’t know the Rec).

The SNT were contacting me regarding an administrative matter – basically, did I know where they could get the tickets they needed to hand out the Fixed Penalty Notices – fines, to you and I – for owners not taking responsibility and not taking away and disposing of their pets’ waste product. (£50 a time, I understand).

Now, I know that some readers will grimace at this, and say that here is another example of councils and councillors jumping at the chance to take more money out of people’s pockets. If you haven’t trodden in the stuff lately then you may think that way, too. If you’re still not sure, I’ll introduce you to the man who told me how he has to scrape the stuff out of the tyres of his motability scooter.

Anyway, it turned out to be a bit more complicated than just ordering up tickets. It seems that a decision had been taken to not fine people as this might be seen as ‘heavy handed’. Now, I can see that it might be difficult to identify who should give these fines out. We don’t have animal wardens, and we’ve all seen how angry people can get when they get a parking ticket, so I don’t think I’d want to be the one handing out fines to dog owners. But I think the Police can handle it.

So, the policy is being reviewed as we speak. I’d be keen to know what you think. Heavy handed punishment or just desserts for a really antisocial lack of responsibility?

One other thing. After discussing this in The Griffin we decided that more signage was needed to show where fouling was and wasn’t allowed. One idea was to encourage local primary schools to design signs that ask for their parks to be kept clean of dog mess. Will cost a bit, but if we’re fining people it would be good to spend the money on something relevant. Again, let me know what you think.

Finally, if you think that these fines could be handed out anywhere, not just in the park, I’d agree with you.

* See you at the Festival *

A quick reminder of a couple of local events worthy of support. This Sunday, the Brentford Festival in Boston Manor Park (written beforehand, ed.). All sorts of good things, including a labour party stall – we are near the putting green, I’m told, so please do stop by and say hallo if you get this mail in time. On Saturday 19th Sept at 10am the dedication ceremony for the St Lawrence Church memorial for those who died in the First World War. The memorial has now moved to the library, alongside other memorials. Afterwards, in the Inverness Club.

* In the money? *

The saga of the S106 payments understandably attracted a lot of attention last month. The good news is that negotiations have opened to extend the deadlines. No news for sure just yet but we are hopeful that our officers can extend the deadlines and not have to spend the money in a hurry rather than see it returned.
It’s been interesting to see the various ideas for where to spend these payments (I’m not sure we can satisfy the person who points out that Brentford FC need a centre-half). Plenty of good ideas to reflect on – new heritage street lamps for Kew Bridge, anyone?

* Planning for the future *

A couple of interesting planning things taking place at the moment. Next week, local councillors will be discussing the latest application for the Alfa Lavel site, which now involve retaining the tower. I was told that it would be very expensive to demolish as some of the building consists of lead, dating from when some of the rooms were used as laboratories.

It’s at this point that you might expect me to say what I thought of the proposals, which include two hotels and 206 homes. For all sorts of reasons we are discouraged from doing so, partly because we might end up having to sit on the committee that decides whether it should get permission. Anyway, the report we read in advance of our meetings is available for all to see at (pdf). If nothing else, there’s a short history lesson at the start. I don’t think I knew the site used to be a cricket pitch.

There haven't been any major planning decisions taken in the area lately. St Georges Church, the former home of the Musical Museum, was given permission to be turned into flats last month, a decision which should ensure the future of the building, and the Kew Bridge site application will be determined later this month

*Anything to report?*
As a councillor, my first task is to try and assist residents with problems. Please get in touch if you think I can help, either by emailing me at or calling 020 8560 7033. You can also take a look at

Councillor Matt Harmer
Brentford ward Labour councillor
London Borough of Hounslow

contact: 153 Ealing Rd
Brentford, Middlesex TW8 0LF
telephone: 020 8560 7033

September 7, 2009