Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Street That Cut Everything

The BBC appears to have come on board with our campaign. The documentary series, which is called The Street That Cut Everything, is intended to discover what would happen to an ordinary residential road if all council services were withdrawn. It is being filmed in a suburb of Preston, and will see residents having to live without a rubbish collection, street lights or street cleaning.

As part of this radical social experiment, 20 dog owners were sent in to allow their dogs to foul the street in Preston. Residents agreed to go without refuse collection, street cleaning and street lights and received a council tax rebate as they carried out essential services themselves.

This would be an opportunity for social comment regarding cuts, the provision of services and the nurturing of a caring society.

As, however, I'm sure you've guessed, the focus is on dog fouling.

Preston Council's Conservative leader, Ken Hudson, said it was not a good way to spend licence fee-payers' money. Mr Hudson said: "I don't think that putting 20 dogs on a street to make sure that the street gets fouled by dog droppings is good television really.We are absolutely appalled that people are leaving dirt on the streets. Normally we would prosecute people for doing that."

Tory MP Stephen Hammond said he would complain to media regulator Ofcom. Mr Hammond, the Conservative MP for Wimbledon, south London and parliamentary aide to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, said: "This is an outrageous piece of scaremongering by the BBC and compromises their editorial integrity.
"We need a full and frank explanation from the organisation about how and why this is a good use of taxpayers' cash.
"I shall be reporting them to Ofcom for what, quite frankly, is an unforgivable breach of editorial standards."

Dorothy Kelk, of the Preston branch of Friends of the Earth, said the BBC was “extremely irresponsible”. “Dog excrement fouling a road is unhygienic and can cause illness in young children.”

Silly me for thinking that the social issues revolve around those, who are less able to care for themselves or that the focus should be on the dangers of government cuts resulting in social disintegration. It's good to realise that our leaders have a greater clarity of thought.

BBC here. Telegraph here.

Party of Law and Order?

Theresa May, Home Secretary, is currently on Sky News.

While talking about reform of counter terrorism measures, she made reference to preventing local authorities from using surveillance systems to prevent dog fouling. She mentions it here at 1 minute 21 seconds:

View the video here.

Call this law and order, because I don't?!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Re The Below Post

Paul has received a reply from the Post Office. For me, a truly interesting fact is that, last year, Royal mail spent £1,037,009 on rubber bands. This was a total order of 760,486,000. I will leave you to read the full reply.

I am, however, glad to say that Paul, who is becoming something of an icon on this blog, is not prepared to let the matter drop. Royal Mail has not stated whether or not this figure refers to red rubber bands or rubber bands in general.

Paul has replied as follows:

Dear Kate Fearn

Thank you for your reply posted today to my FOI request made on 31

The reply does not make clear if the figures provided are just for
red rubber bands. If not, please supply the information requested.

In the meanwhile, let us assume that the data is specifically about
red bands.

By adding your figures for the last five financial year, it appears
a total in excess of £4.7 million was spent on c. 4,000 million red
rubber bands.

According to The Guardian on 2.11.10, Royal Mail letter volumes
stood at 68 million items posted per day. Multiplying this by 6
days and 52 weeks gives in round numbers 21,000 million letters
posted per year.

Divide this product by the number of rubber bands purchased in
2009/10, 760.5 million, and it suggests that a new rubber band is
needed for every 28th letter.

If Royal Mail broadly accepts the maths, I would like an
explanation as to why so many bands are needed.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Burns

Now I'm not sure that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act entitles Paul to details of why a purchase was needed. My understanding is that it relates to information regarding the numbers, unless there is a specific document outlining the need. If that is the case, we could be in for a lengthy reply and counter reply.

Paul, we are with you for the long haul. Stay at it, you are an inspiration to us all!
I have further declared solidarity at

Follow the progress and read Royal Mail's FOI reply here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Red Rubber Bands and Freedom of Information

What Do They Know.Com is there to "make and explore Freedom of Information requests "

As you are probably aware, the Freedom of Information act was passed to ensure that government bodies could not keep information on us unless we have access to it. This was seen as a major step away from a "big brother" culture.

It was, therefore, only a matter of time before somebody found the time and energy to use the act to explore the issue of red rubber bands. On the last day of last year, Paul Burns stepped up to the mark. He has made the following Freedom of Information request:

Dear Royal Mail Group Limited,

I often see the red rubber bands used in postal deliveries
littering pavements and the paths leading to front doors.

It is not unusual to see more two or three lying close together.
Yesterday during a ten minute walk in my area I counted over fifty
of these bands and I have seen similar numbers in other parts of
the country.

This has been an issue since at least 2006 when The Times ran an
item on the wastefulness of the red rubber bands (26 January).

Last year (2009) BBC’s PM programme featured the issue.

Because I see no evidence that such reports and other expressions
of public concern have made any difference, I request for the last
five years available:

1) Royal Mail expenditure on red rubber bands.

2) The number of red rubber bands purchased.

3) Break down by region and or district on the quantities of red
rubber bands supplied and how these figures relate to either the
number of households or volume of mail delivered.

Royal Mail is also invited to place any information that might
demonstrate that effective measures are in place to limit this form
of litter and flagrant waste.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Burns

I truly admire the way Paul introduces the issue of quantities of red rubber bands supplied weighed against the number of households or volume of mail relevant to regions or districts. Even with our most obsessive heads on, we had not approached the matter from that angle.

Royal Mail replies as follows:

Dear Mr Burns,

Thank you for your request for information received on 31 December 2010,
which we are considering under the Freedom of Information Act. Under the
Act you should expect a reply from us to be sent by 31 January 2011, which
is twenty working days from receipt of your request.

If for any reason we are unable to provide you with a full response within
that time, we will contact you explaining the reasons for this and giving
a revised date by which we will reply.

If in the mean time you have any questions or would like to contact us
about your request, please contact us by telephone (0114) 2414215 or
alternatively email or write to us at the address below. Please be
assured that we are giving this our attention and will get back to you

Yours sincerely,

Kate Fearn
Company Secretary's Office
Freedom of Information Case Officer
[1][Royal Mail Group request email]

Freedom of Information Unit
Royal Mail Sheffield
2nd Floor
Pond Street
S98 6HR

(0114) 2414215

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in
England and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,

We only have to wait to 31 January to read the reply.

Let us monitor the situation here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Councillor John Taylor, Dunkinfield Ward, Tameside. Make What You Can of This!

As you will all be very aware, we have zero interest in politics here. In fact, we are so politically illiterate that we would even consider forming a coalition government (joke!).

Politics does, however, bring us to the subject of councillor John Taylor, a Labour councillor for Dunkinfield ward in Tameside. Look at that smiling face to the left. This is surely a calm and reasoning man. Not someone, who would react in anything other than a genteel manner.

Needless to say, things are never that clearcut. The picture above paints a different story. John is clearly something of a controversial figure. I would urge you to read the article here, and here. If all that doesn't confuse you, then have a look at John's website here and then tell me that all in the world is easy to understand!

"So how does this affect us" I hear you cry. Well, you guessed it, John has dipped his toe into the dog fouling arena!

The Tameside Advertiser reports on the discontent caused by dog restriction orders, which appear to have been sponsored by John and others.

Enoch Powell famously declared that "all political careers end in failure". Take heed of this, John, especially as you watch the video below, where it appears that one of your voters is unlikely to back you in the future.

"A great invention from a small country with a great beer"

Throughout this blog we have shown you the wild and wacky inventions that man has come up with to deal with the by-products of dogs ie: how to pick up poo.

The best inventions are the simplest - and today the humble "hand in a plastic bag" technique is still the most popular. But have you ever wondered who came up with this idea first ?

Well wonder no more. According to this 1970 commercial for Feldschlossen Beer it was the Swiss who came up with the award winning idea before anyone else!

Unless anyone has evidence to the contrary, I think we will have to give the Swiss this one :-)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Park Lamps Fuelled by Dog Poop

I don't quite know how we let this one slip through the net but many thanks to Fox News for the following article about how Cambridge Park, Massachusetts, has trialled
a means of converting dog waste to energy. As Fox News sums it up:

"It stinks and it's a hazard to walkers everywhere, but it turns out dog poop has a bright side".

Being the US, this is, naturally, mixed with art. The project is the idea of artist Matthew Mazzotta. I could go on but feel that a quick viewing of the video will have the desired effect.

Read the full report here.

Of course, in the UK, we think small and can, therefore, bring it right back down to earth. This has been achieved by Pat Barker in Penge, South East London, who wrote the following letter to the Bromley Times:

Thanks, Pat, you've injected the British spirit into the situation!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The American Way v The British Way - which is better ?

I'm always fascinated at the different ways that different countries deal with the problem of dog fouling - the USA & UK do it so differently from each other.

Pierre Verrier is an animal control officer for the Brookline district in Boston, USA. Late last year he was out on patrol in Larz Anderson Park monitoring the dog walkers when he saw local man, David Maurer, allow his dog to defecate on the grass and not pick up.

Verrier immediately sprung into action and told Maurer he needed to pick up. Maurer agreed to do so. Not content with this, Verrier maintained observations and saw Maurer leave the park without bagging the poo. Verrier then followed Maurer to his home and issued him with a citation.

Job done - or so Verrier thought.

A short time later, Verrier was waiting at a red light on his way back to the crime scene when a black car pulled up next him. Out got Maurer, carrying a bag of dog faeces and started banging on the car window.

Verrier rolled down his window and asked Maurer what was wrong, at which point Maurer shoved the contents of the bag into Verrier's face. After a short scuffle, Maurer was arrested and charged with assault and battery on a police officer and assault with a dangerous weapon !!

Now compare this direct and immediate action by the Americans to that of the UK Police ...

Nigel David Hesmondhalgh (I kid you not - that is his real name!) from Accrington, Lancashire, UK has recently been given a 2 year ASBO banning him from throwing dog faeces after subjecting his neighbours to such behaviour for 4 years - yes you heard right - 4 years!!!

I accept that in some cases the police have been known to drag their feet in dealing with anti-social behaviour, but this is downright lazy.

Can you imagine Pierre Verrier taking 4 years to deal with a dog poop problem? I don't think so.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Better Medway

Medway Council has joined the campaign. When I first saw this reference to the Love Medway campaign, I assumed that the government had agreed to allow the armed forces to use the area for target practice.

As it happens, I wasn't far out! The local authority has chosen Community Officer Jonathan Aston to highlight the issue of dog fouling by making a video for the public.

Having studied this video, I have concluded that Jonathan is not a member of Equity, although this could mark his first steps on the long and rocky road to stardom. I was particularly struck by the way Jonathan gestures towards a dog mess bin, which is not visible on camera. I remember the same thing happened when I was filmed in the company of five scantily clad, beautiful young women, who could not take their eyes off me. Sadly, they were also off camera. A very clever editing technique.

Let's hear it for Jon!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

MamaModel.Com is a very uplifting and spiritual site. It contains advice from a lady, who wishes to share the best of what she knows as she learns and grows.

How touching, then, that she should produce a video about dog fouling. I can say very little more. We have found a supporter of the cause. She is with us and even explains the benefits of flushing dog faeces down the loo, one of which is that said faeces will then not enter the water system.

We are all together with these views!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Time To Usher In The New Year

Nothing much to this one, really.

It's time to kick off the New Year and how better than with some exploding dog poo?

Those of us, who can think back over 13 months (doesn't time fly, will remember the disgraceful episode, where we saw vandals blowing up a dog waste bin with a firework. To refresh your memory, look here.

This year, we see a legal variation on a theme as some kindred spirits show us how to blow up a lump of dog excrement with a firework. This could be the beginning of something big, after all, look at everything, which developed from Newton's apple!

Get those bangers out!

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