Address dog mess issues in Minehead and retract the ABC unfairly issued against Mr Heard.
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A problem with dog mess in Minehead has led to Mr. Heard and his family leading a campaign for offenders to be better informed of the dangers in leaving mess unattended, and also to be more severely punished for not adhering to dog mess policy. The campaign has begged for better behaviour from dog-owning Minehead residents through the use of signs, water-soluble spray paint, and the physical efforts of Mr. Heard, who bags and deposits the mess left by others.
Sadly, Mr. Heard has been met with an unprecedented hostility from a select few Minehead citizens, including but not limited to threatening letters, emails, online abuse and the vandalism and theft of his hand-made signs, and whilst he has reported the events to the police, little appears to have been done about it. On top of this, he has been issued with an Acceptable Behaviour Contract, linked to his endeavours to make his town safer and more user-friendly.
Mr. Heard is disabled, registered deaf and suffering from diabetes and Meniere's Disease, and he uses a mobility scooter to get around the town. When he takes his dog for walks in the central, rural and coastal parks in the town, he repeatedly has to clean mess from the wheels of his scooter, and it is this which first drove him to campaign for change. Whilst some may think that his signs are annoying, one can assume that they are not as annoying as having to clean animal waste from your wheelchair every time you take your dog out.
The petition first asks that the issue of dog mess be addressed by the correct government agencies and with the appropriate government funds, as opposed to being left to Mr. Heard, and his own pocket.
Various strategies have been employed across the country, some very similar to Mr. Heard's own methods, for example, Dorset, Gloucestershire and West Dunbartonshire council's have advocated spray painting mess to shame the offenders, and British Waterways went even further, resorting to hanging discarded bags of mess from a tree to show their disgust at people bagging-and-flinging. Abroad in Spain, volunteers spied on offenders, and once identified, boxed dog mess was returned to the owners bearing the town's emblem and labelled 'lost property'. On television, presenter Ben Fogle has supported members of the public picking up the mess of others, himself collecting one extra for each of his own. Hastings, Teesdale, Nottingham and Islington have been known to use specially adapted Hoovers, whilst Ireland, Spain, the UK and USA are investigating the merits of dog mess DNA testing. Such pursuits are already in place across the world, leading to fines and public shaming.
How then, given the above information made accessible by BBC news on a simple Google search, if council's across the UK and Europe, and TV presenters are using and promoting these methods, can Mr. Heard possibly be issued with an Acceptable Behaviour Contract, which is but one step away from an Anti-Social Behaviour Order, for doing the same thing? His actions are community focussed, and can only benefit the residents of Minehead. And in some ways they are far less extreme than the methods presented by other councils. Mr. Heard is well respected in the town, and partakes in various voluntary projects, his deafness leading to him being viewed as unemployable by Health and Safety experts, in spite of his skills in carpentry.
We ask secondly that both Minehead and West Somerset Councils work to retract the ridiculous ABC against Mr. Heard on these grounds alone, on top of addressing the problem themselves, as other councils have done so successfully.
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