TWENTY council staff who had been furloughed during lockdown have been redeployed to carry out an intensified campaign to clamp down on dog fouling in Strabane.
Around 20 leisure service workers who had been furloughed due to Covid-19 will now be on patrol to help combat the ongoing dog fouling problem across the district.
It is believed around 15 of these workers will be covering Strabane.
However these staff members will not have the power to issue fines to offenders, but instead will be assisting with patrols and raising awareness as part of the intensive campaign to clamp down on dog fouling.
The move comes after a motion was brought forward to council by councillors Paul Gallagher and Steven Edwards.
Welcoming the scheme, Cllr Edwards said, “Along with Cllr Paul Gallagher, we brought a motion to council calling for additional staff to be brought into the area to tackle increasing levels of dog fouling across the area.
“The new scheme will have more boots on the ground, increased use of CCTV to catch offenders and an initiative around giving poop bags or leaflets out to the public.
“At last week’s health and communities committee meeting I raised concern that the additional staff do not have powers to fine offenders which is disappointing.
“It is equally disappointing that DNA testing cannot be used as it needs Stormont intervention,” Cllr Edwards explained.
“During this meeting, there are a number of areas targeted for this new scheme.
“Clady and the Glebe were originally left out but I made sure they were included.
“The SDLP will continue to look at new schemes and imaginative solutions to tackle dog fouling once and for all,” said Cllr Edwards.
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council explained, “These patrols will focus on hotspot areas throughout the city and district where dog fouling is most prevalent, including a number of locations in Strabane,” the spokesperson explained.
“Additional signage, billboards, information leaflets, CCTV and other measures have also been introduced to raise awareness and drive home the message that anyone in breach of dog control legislation will be fined.
“The onus is on everyone to be responsible, pick up after your pets and ensure our public spaces are clean, safe and welcoming for all,” the spokesperson added.