Dog owners’ ‘dangerous selfishness’ is messing it up for others
Saturday 9th March 2013, 10:00AM GMT.
AFTER all the high-powered constitutional events of last week, it’s back to the more mundane – but just as significant and important – issues affecting everyday affairs in this small community.
Top of the list – and not for the first time – is dog muck and in a letter to Bob Parsons’ monthly Sark Scribe, Conseiller Hazel Fry vividly illustrates how significant an issue this is.
After holding a ‘listening time’ last month at La Petite Poule, she wrote: ‘Many important issues were raised but what subject came up more than any other? Dog poo. People are disgusted by it and are wondering what can be done about it.’
In the days before Conseiller Fry was in Chief Pleas, the matter was debated and members agreed to continue without legislation but rely on the voluntary actions of dog owners. Since then, and to its credit, Chief Pleas has placed dog muck bins in several locations and, to their credit, more dog owners now clean up after their pets.
However, there are some pretty notorious exceptions who seem hell bent on allowing their animals to foul places like shop doorsteps in The Avenue.
If only because of their dangerous selfishness (dog faeces poses a significant health danger, particularly to children), perhaps the time has come for legislation to include the power to fine and, in subsequent prosecutions, ban people from owning dogs. Voluntary policing has clearly failed and should be abandoned. Sark has been too tolerant of these people for far too long.
The massive (for Sark) gear that now makes an annual visit to the island to ‘fix’ the roads has arrived and its presence has perhaps provoked more comment this year than in any other since its first. That is probably because there is a strong body of opinion which believes the current lack of employment suggests that the machine which replaced the men should now be replaced by the men.
Strange as it may seem, I have a measure of sympathy (not a lot, but a bit) with the douzaine because it is likely that the tractor and machinery has to be booked well in advance and was probably ordered long before the current unemployment really began to bite.
That said, there remains no earthly reason why a winter work scheme cannot be introduced – even at this late stage, but certainly planned for the end of the year – to alleviate some of the real hardship that a number of individuals and families are experiencing.
Well, Colin Kniveton has been and gone and, hopefully, left enough in the way of reports and recommendations to justify the considerable slice of Sark’s annual budget it cost to employ him in the first place.
There appears to be a move on the part of the General Purposes and Advisory Committee to get a proposal in to the next Chief Pleas in April to appoint what chairman Charles Maitland described as an administrator ‘as a first step’.
If they do that they are likely to run into all manner of opposition and would be far better first distributing Mr Kniveton’s reports and calling public meetings to sound out the views of residents. There is no pressing need to have anything arising from this debated in April and once the public are ‘on side’ – insofar as they ever will be – then that’s the time for propositions.
In the meantime, Mr Kniveton’s public utterances appear to have leaned towards stating the obvious in identifying the major problem(s) but are short on offering any sort of answers. There is no one in Sark who isn’t aware of the problems the island faces. It’s solutions that are needed – and not those which offer economic strangleholds.
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