Dog poop bag row councillor resigns

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A PROMINENT rural councillor has quit Wyre Council’s ruling cabinet after throwing a dog ‘poop scoop’ bag at a member of the public, following a council chamber debate on dog control orders.

The bag – which was being used a ‘visual prop’ during the debate, and contained bread shapes to resemble canine faeces – hit dog-lover Mrs Irene Horner, a pensioner, who had taken part in a question and answer session, along with other dog owners concerned about the impact of the orders.

The poop scoop bag incident was witnessed by several councillors and some of the 45 members of the public, mainly dog owners, who attended last Monday’s meeting of Wyre cabinet.

Mrs Horner had moved to the microphone to thank councillors for listening to the dog lovers’ views when she was struck on the chest by the bag, thrown by Conservative councillor Paul Moon, who represents Preesall and Knott End.

A shocked Mrs Horner said the public had been annoyed earlier in the meeting, when Coun Moon and other councillors had been playing ‘catch’ with the poop scoop bag.

Talking exclusively to The Courier she said: “This is disgraceful behaviour from a cabinet councillor, which only serves to bring the council into disrepute.

“Can you imagine the outrage if someone in the public gallery had thrown something at a councillor?”

When news of the incident became public the following day, a council statement was issued, saying: “A ‘poop and scoop’ bag was used as a visual aid to highlight the problem and the impact which irresponsible dog fouling has across the borough.”

But as details of the incident spread among councillors, parish councillors, the wider public and press, Coun Moon decided to step down from his £8,000 a year post as cabinet member with responsibility for ‘Street Scene’ matters.

Coun Moon commented: “Unfortunately the use of the visual aid backfired quite horrendously, completely innocently, and it caused acute embarrassment to fellow councillors and it offended members of the public.

“I apologised to the members of the public, and to try and alleviate the problem I resigned from the role of street scene portfolio holder. I cannot say or give any more apology or any further explanation.”

Council leader Coun Peter Gibson said Coun Moon “had been quick to take personal responsibility for his actions as he recognises that this was an error of judgement on his part.”

It is not the first time Coun Moon’s activities in the council chamber have raised eyebrows.

Two years ago, he put a pair of underpants on his head during a mayoral meeting, prompting quizzical looks and leading one Tory colleague to describe his actions as “out of the school of Michael Bentine, and not appropriate in a council chamber”.

Coun Moon, a former chairman of the council’s planning committee, became a cabinet member last year.

He will continue in his role as a Wyre councillor for Preesall and Knott End, and as town councillor for Preesall South ward.

After details of Coun Moon’s resignation appeared on Wyre’s website, and after receiving a written apology, Mrs Horner said she had withdrawn her complaint.

The disposal of dog dirt has been a controversial issue for many years, not least in Preesall and Knott End, where some dog owners have come under fire from councillors for throwing plastic bags containing their pets’ faeces into trees and hedges, and for stuffing them down public drains, causing blockages.

n One of the points made by dog lovers at the meeting was that signs pointing out the new dog control orders could cost the council as much as £40,000.

A council spokesperson said: “Tendering will take place to ensure the best value for money, so the actual cost could be a lot lower.”

The spokesperson added it was hoped the signs would be in place by summer, adding: “They make it a lot clearer exactly where dogs can be walked freely, where they should be on a lead, and how many can be walked at once.

“Because the orders are easier to understand and enforce than the existing raft of by-laws, it will be harder for irresponsible dog owners to spoil other people’s enjoyment.”