Row erupts over council plans to take on firm to fine dog-fouling culprits

A new clampdown on dog fouling has been called for in Portsmouth
A new clampdown on dog fouling has been called for in Portsmouth

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A POLITICAL row has erupted over whether a company should be hired to stamp out dog mess in Portsmouth.

The Lib Dems had hoped at the latest meeting of the full council to discuss why firm 3GS should be hired to issue fines to people who don’t clean up after their pets in public and drop litter.

But the Tories, backed by Labour and Ukip, voted against having the discussion because the decision has been referred to a panel to scrutinise on Friday – in a forum where people can have their say.

It comes after the Tory cabinet decided beforehand it did not want to pursue 3GS because there were too many unknown costs involved. Now the Lib Dems argue they have been silenced and the vote goes against the council’s desire to be more open and transparent.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘We had hoped that all 42 councillors would have had a discussion about this, but we were silenced.

‘They wanted to silence any discussion about getting rid of a contract which would have cost the council nothing and why it’s important we clear up dog mess and litter across the city.’ The council scrutiny management panel looking at the 3GS decision will decide whether it should remain or should be addressed by the cabinet again at another meeting.

The Lib Dems requested that the matter be focused on by the panel because they felt the Tories did not look hard enough into the viability of the scheme.

Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy council leader, said: ‘The Lib Dems are not being denied a forum to debate this.

‘They have got one. There has been a call in request for a meeting and that is the moment for this to be discussed.’ Cllr Stubbs also said the 3GS issue came eight hours into a meeting which felt ‘long enough’. The lengthy meeting included a number of key issues, including legal highs and the decision to ask disgraced MP Mike Hancock to repay the £150,000 cost of the council’s investigation into his conduct.

As reported, one of the reasons the cabinet decided not to hire 3GS was because council officers said there hadn’t been a procurement exercise carried out with other firms.

‘We still think we made the right decision in not hiring 3GS,’ said Cllr Stubbs.

‘There was also a concern there may have been a net cost to the council.’

Cllr Colin Galloway, Ukip group leader, said: ‘I am venomously against this type of outsourcing to 3GS or any other company like that.’