A HIT squad of private dog mess police are to be paid £45 for every owner they catch failing to clean up after their pooch, under new council plans.
Private company Xfor, already used by other local authorities in the capital, is set to be brought in on a six-month trial to crack down on mess on our streets.
The company will provide a team of six officers specialising in issuing fixed penalty notices for littering, including cigarette butts, and dog control order offences.
The council hopes the scheme will dramatically reduce dog fouling in the borough, as Xfor issue between 300 to 400 tickets per month, in contrast to the current rate of around 30.
Councillor Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: "Residents are quite rightly fed up of people dropping litter and dog owners not picking up after their pets, and this pilot scheme will give the council the chance to trial new ways of clamping down on the problem.
"The council works hard to maintain the cleanliness of our high streets and town centres, but unfortunately there is a small minority who have no respect for their environment and continue to flout the law. Hopefully, this scheme will encourage them to act more responsibly."
The council insists the £70 it receives from the penalties will be used purely to fund the running costs of the pilot, with the scheme designed to be cost-neutral.
To enable this, the current early payment rate of £50 would come to an end.
Mother Annie Clarke, 36, from Selsdon, told the Advertiser she thinks this is a step in the right direction. She said: "I am sick and tired of taking my children to the park or to school and having them step in dog muck.
"It's so dangerous and not to mention disgusting. What if one of my babies got a disease from it or something? Although this seems like a pretty strange way of tackling the problem I hope it works and I'll be able to let my children play in the park without worrying about what they're going to be stepping on."
Officers from Xfor will follow guidelines set down by the council and work alongside existing council staff, who have responsibility for other areas, and who are based mainly in town centres.
The proposals will be considered by the council's cabinet this evening (Monday).