Crackdown on dog foulers and litter louts in North Norfolk

Litter louts and dog foulers are set to be targeted in a new crackdown launched across north Norfolk which will see environmental officers get on their bikes to catch offenders.

The new cycle patrols by environmental health officers at the district council will start this month and continue right through the summer.

They aim to tackle people who ignore the dog control orders along beaches, those who drop litter and people who allow their dog to foul and not clear up after it.

The crackdown is part of the council's overall programme aimed at keeping north Norfolk 'clean and green'.

James Wilson, the council's environmental protection team leader, said the bikes - bought with funds raised through fixed penalty fines for dog and litter offences - would give officers greater flexibility and let them cover a wider area.

Currently there are two bikes for the team covering the Cromer, Sheringham, Overstrand and Runton areas, although Mr Wilson said it was hoped to expanded to a wider area if the bike patrols proved successful.

Members of the environmental health team already do daily foot patrols and know of specific 'hotspots' to target, including Happy Valley in Cromer.

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Mr Wilson said since the beginning of this year they had issued 15 fixed penalty notices for a mixture of littering, dog fouling and breach of dog control orders on beaches. The fine is �80, reduced to �60 if paid in the first 10 days. But if a person does not pay, it could lead to a prosecution and a fine of up to �2,500.

The bike patrols tie in with the council's responsible dog ownership campaign, which Mr Wilson said was as much about 'education' as 'enforcement' and focused on things such as dog fouling but also dog welfare.

As part of the campaign, the team will be giving out free bags containing information and advice on things such as gadgets to stop dog boredom and nuisance and also free dog tags and dog mess bags, at different events around north Norfolk.

They will be launching this year's responsible dog ownership campaign in North Walsham on June 26 and at the Norfolk Show on June 29 and 30.

It will also be at Holkham Country Fair July 16-17, Holt Festival on July 30, Worstead Festival on July 31, Wells Carnival from July 30 - August 7, Sheringham Carnival on Sunday August 7, Cromer Carnival on Wednesday, August 17 and Fakenham Community Day on August 28.

Mr Wilson said targeting litterers and dog foulers was extremely important not only in making sure north Norfolk remained somewhere people wanted to visit, but also for health reasons.

He said: 'The fact is dog fouling is a damn nuisance. Children pick it up, it can be picked up on prams, it is dirty and horrible.

'Also if people come to Cromer beach and see it full of litter, you have to ask, will they will not want to come back? That affects the tourist trade. We want to keep it as clean and green as possible so people want to come back.'

Steve Hems, environmental health manager at the council, added: 'It is not only unsightly and spoils our clean and green district, but the cost of clearing up afterwards has to be borne by all council tax payers.'

People can report any littering, dog fouling or dogs on beaches to the NNDC Environmental Protection Team on 01263 516085.