The Committee considered the undernoted report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 To provide Members of the People and Communities Committee with an update in relation to an operational review and refresh of the ‘Responsible Dog Ownership Campaign’. This report provides details of the work already undertaken and of activities that have been programmed for the future.
2.1 The Committee is asked to:
· Note the contents of the report.
3.0 Main report
3.1 In February 2022 it was moved by Councillor Garrett, seconded by Councillor Verner and unanimously agreed that an operational review and refresh of the ‘Responsible Dog Ownership Campaign’ be undertaken by officers that, along with other areas that might be identified, should include Education, Enforcement and Cleansing, with the findings to be submitted in due course to a future meeting of the Committee for consideration.
Marketing and Communications Update
3.2 There are 3 key strands within responsible dog ownership that are the focus of our new Marketing & Communications Campaign for Responsible Dog Ownership for 2022/2023: Education, Enforcement and Cleansing.
3.3 Education – Our messaging has been reviewed and the new imagery is more visual and impactful.
Enforcement – We have reviewed our reporting mechanisms and messaging and are encouraging reporting. We are working closely with Elected Members, colleagues in Parks, colleagues who monitor social media and the public to target fouling hotspot areas.
Cleansing – We are working more closely with colleagues in OSS to ensure Dog Wardens are aware of hotspot areas and that they are cleaned promptly.
3.4 We want to encourage reporting of dog fouling, ensuring that our message is clear and mechanisms are in place both online and offline. Operationally we need to stand over what we are communicating to ensure the user journey is seamless.
3.5 Whilst we recognise that the enforcement message is an important one the message needs to be more than the fine. We want the message and the advertising creative to appeal to their ‘better self’.
3.6 The overarching campaign message is #YourdogYourJob. This message allows us to support communication across the key areas of education, enforcement and cleansing in all our marketing and communication channels in a consistent way.
3.7 We benchmarked by looking at what other councils in NI, ROI and further afield do in relation to dog fouling.
3.8 The activity will include -
· A fully integrated advertising activity that will run for 3 weeks from 10 October 2022 to coincide with the darker evenings.
· Tactical outdoor advertising on buses and adshels that will target known hotspot areas and main arterial routes. (See examples of artwork in 4.0)
· Radio and online activity.
· Paid for social media.
3.9 There will be supporting communications to coincide with the advertising (outdoor/radio/digital) and to support all year round communications around the campaign #YourdogYourjob for example:
· Press release and PR pictures
· Social media – This will also give us the opportunity to capture live feedback
· Website – We will ensure our website content is up to date and the ‘back office’ side of the operation is in place to support the campaigns call to action
· City Matters – We plan placement of editorials around the campaign
Evaluation of the Campaign
3.10 We will evaluate the campaign by obtaining statistics of the number of clicks, plays etc.; determining how many people have viewed the posters; assessment of public awareness of the campaign messages and assessing the cleanliness of hotspot area streets before and after the campaign.
3.11 Engagement with Schools
Our Environmental Education and Outreach Team (formerly CAT) will be running a Billboard Challenge for Schools in January 2023. We will visit schools to educate pupils and then invite them to take part in a competition to design a billboard. In each school, the winning design will appear on a billboard close to the school.
3.12 Stenciling in our Parks
Our Environmental Education and Outreach Team have provided stencils to OSS colleagues in several parks.
3.13 Proactive Fouling Patrols
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the Council was only operating critical services and our pro-active dog fouling patrols were therefore temporarily suspended. These were reintroduced as the pandemic restrictions eased and regular programmed proactive patrols are taking place across the city. Our Dog Wardens interact with dog owners and the general public and continue to receive positive feedback. Patrol locations are adapted to take account of current hotspot areas.
3.14 At the meeting on 8 February 2022 Members asked for consideration of a Dog Warden
Team in each quarter of the city. We have 12 Dog Wardens and 2 Supervisors. They work 12 hours shifts (8 am to 8 pm) 7 days a week. There are four teams with 3 Dog Wardens in each and on any shift there are always two teams working. We have the city split into 2 areas North / South and East / West. Two of the teams always work in N/S and the other two teams always work in E/W. From an operational point of view this allows the Dog Wardens to get to know the areas but gives us more flexibility to cover leave and absence than we could achieve with individual teams in separate areas.
3.15 Finance and Resource Implications
The advertising campaign costs have been absorbed within the marketing and communications business as usual budget.
3.16 Asset and Other Implications
3.17 Equality or Good Relations Implications/
Rural Needs Assessment
The Committee thanked the Director for the update report and discussed the ongoing issues with dog fouling throughout the City. During discussion the following issues were highlighted:
· Liaison with Corporate Communications to discuss the possibility of localising and enhancing the dog foul media campaign in terms of relevance to each District Electoral Area, including liaison with the Elected Members of these areas;
· developing further a stencilling campaign throughout the city (to include liaison with the DfI in this regard);
· increasing the use of no dog foul signage throughout the city but particularly at ‘hotspot areas’;
· consideration of the use of the Customer Hub in identifying ‘hotspots’ and directly linking directly with the Elected Members for these areas;
· the provision of free dog foul bags in problem areas (like had been done on the Comber Greenway by local children) and ensuring adequate bins for disposal were available; and
· the development of responsible dog ownership campaigns in the Council’s parks and playing field locations.
The Committee agreed that a follow up report would be submitted to a future meeting which would consider the issues/potential opportunities as discussed.