Dog muck battle builds

PUBLISHED: 11:32 19 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:07 30 June 2010

THE fight against dog mess being left at a well-used sports ground has stepped up a gear, with more than 150 members joining a Facebook group set up to tackle the issue.

THE fight against dog mess being left at a well-used sports ground has stepped up a gear, with more than 150 members joining a Facebook group set up to tackle the issue.

Members of Shrublands Junior Football Club have been calling for action to be taken on the council-owned pitches at Southtown Common after concerns for the health of its young players.

This follows a season in which coaches, managers and parents have been forced to spend up to 45 minutes clearing up piles before football matches can go ahead.

And now 10 petitions are circulating around the 250-member club alongside the Facebook group, which has attracted numerous comments from frustrated users of the common.

Instrumental in current efforts is Frank Keller, a father to one of the players and someone who has spent time photographing and cataloguing the foul play, including one day when he counted 50 deposits.

He emphasised the health risks of dog mess, including Toxicara, in which roundworms can, in extreme cases, cause blindness, and compared the situation to Beaconsfield in Great Yarmouth.

He said: “Because they're close to the sea they've got big signs telling people to take care of their dog mess and specific bins which is what we really need.

“This is bigger than the football club. This is also for the wider community who use it, and we need to get the council to do something about it and spread awareness among dog walkers.”

Darren Clement, manager of the under 8s squad, got so fed up with the situation that his squad now play on the Edward Worlledge School grounds.

He said: “I don't want the kids being put off playing for the Shrublands team because of the shocking state of the pitches. It wasn't something I was keen to do - Southtown common is where we belong.”

Mr Clement started the Facebook group after it was agreed at a club manager's meeting that something needed to be done to improve things at the common, which has one general purpose bin.

Chairman of Shrublands Football Club Gary Bussink added that the problem had got worse in the last year, and that the environmental rangers who patrol the area were spread too thin.

However, though senior environmental ranger Paul Shucksmith accepted that it would always be nice to have more staff and emphasised the importance of public help in his teams efforts, he asserted that the problems faced at Southtown common were part of a seasonal trend.

He also stated that “any dog mess is too much dog mess” and accepted that the danger of Toxicara, but dismissed the idea that more bins for dog mess on the common would help because “dog owners know their responsibilities”.

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