A FATHER has hit out at “criminals” who refuse to clean up after their dogs and called for tougher penalties to be dished out.

Business owner James Grant, 34, is fed up with the amount of dog mess in Witham and has called for more fines to be issued to owners who refuse to pick it up.

The plea comes after his daughter Phoebe, two, fell in some dog mess while the family were out walking.

Mr Grant, who lives off Rickstones Road, said: “In the summer my daughter Phoebe was playing in the local park and fell straight into dog mess, which was incredibly dangerous.

“She was frightened, it smelt, she was crying and screaming at us to get it off. When that happens you have to turn around and go home.

“During a short visit to Morrisons today from our home address I counted 42 droppings of dog mess. This is totally out of control.

“Dog owners in the area believe they can get away with this and obviously feel they are above the law. They are criminals, it’s the law and they are breaking it.

“Phone complaints had been made to the council to improve the area with better signs, enforcing fines or distributing letters in the community to improve awareness. In my opinion, none of this has been carried out.”

Mr Grant has submitted a complaint and a Freedom of Information request to Braintree Council, asking how many fines it issued last year.

He added: “The dogs are going where they like but the owners just ignore it. It is sheer laziness.

“I don’t feel bins and signs are doing enough, there are bins out there surrounded by dog poo.”

Resident Danielle Baker is experiencing the same problem a mile away in Munro Road.

She said: “It’s very bad at the moment, there is a huge cowpat sitting right at the end of the road this very moment. Me and my neighbours walk this way for school run with eight children and two buggies. To try and dodge it every morning is a nightmare.”

Witham councillor Phil Barlow said: “I have not had anything reported to me, but a couple of years ago and the dog warden at Braintree Council did some investigating and I think we managed to find the source and fine the owner.

“I will have a look now and pass it onto him. People should be responsible and if it is happening then they should be fined.”

Wendy Schmitt, councillor responsible for environment and place, said: “The council has always taken a pro-active and robust approach in tackling dog fouling through our educational campaigns and enforcement.

“We are planning to do another campaign this year and will continue to undertake high level enforcement.

“There is no excuse for this as the council has provided over 1,000 dog bins in the district, with 200 in Witham.”