DOG waste bins and litter bins are to be removed from some of the county’s beauty spots in a bid to save money.
But Lancashire County Council has been accused of foul play after notices announcing the removal of bins at all country parks and picnic sites went up before any formal decision had been taken by councillors.
Astounded dog walkers spotted a notice at the Preston Junction walking and cycling route, near Avenham Park, stating the cost of emptying the bins is “prohibitive” and so the council is taking them away.
Dog walker Maria Roebuck said she feared that dog walkers would stop cleaning up after their pets.
Coun Marcus Johnstone criticised council staff for jumping the gun with the posters.
He revealed the notice had been put up without even telling him about the proposal and before he had seen any report on it.
But Coun Johnstone, who holds the environment, planning and cultural services portfolio, said he will probably give the go-ahead next week for the controversial cuts as the council must cut its spending.
He said: “This is what austerity looks like.”
We understand there may be three exceptions. At Beacon Fell and the Crook O’Lune picnic sitethere will be staff available to carry on emptying the bins and at Wycoller Country Park the local council empties the dog bins.
But elsewhere – at sites including Spring Wood, Whalley and Marles Wood at Dinckley, near Ribchester – there will be no chance of bagging and binning dog excrement or putting picnic rubbish in waste bins.
Walkers will be expected to carry take the bags of poo and litter for the rest of their visit to the beauty spots and then take them home.
Concerned Preston resident Dave Roebuck said he and his wife Maria, of Riverside, walk along the Preston Junction route which runs from Avenham Park to Bamber Bridge regularly, taking their labrador Samson for a walk.
He said: “People are saying they won’t take their muck home.”
The former union official said he feared the move would break the good habits of Preston and South Ribble residents who now bag and bin leaving the popular walking and cycling trail muck free.
Maria, a teacher, added she that she feared some dog walkers may fling their dog bags away: “People are not going to take it home.”
Another dog walker who visits The Junction each day added: “This route is very heavily used, especially by dog walkers. It’s going to have a major effect. The council only supplies two bins on that walk so what’s the major problem in emptying them? Surely they can money from somewhere else – it’s two bins!”
The council’s posters blame government cuts, rising costs and increased demand for key services as the reason for its cost-cutting move.
The poster states: “As a result of the continued budget reductions all litter and dog waste bins will be removed from this site as the cost of emptying them is now prohibitive. We ask that dog owners take responsibility for their dog’s waste and take it with them and dispose of it responsibly. If you bring litter, please take it away with you.”
A surprised County Coun Marcus Johnstone who will receive a report on the likely bin ban said: “The poster shouldn’t have gone up before I’ve taken the decision. I haven’t taken the decision yet - having said that I’ll be very surprised if I don’t take the decision. This is what austerity looks like.”
The council has 93 countryside recreation sites and employs six full time rangers, plus 100 volunteer rangers.
The designated picnic sites are at: Cinderbarrow, Conder Green,Crook O’Lune, Scorton, Spring Wood and Marles Wood.
The council’s recreationand forestry sites include a reclamation site at Fleetwood, forestry in South Ribble at Bow Brook and Hennel Lane/Carr Wood. Other sites include Preston Junction. In Ribble Valley Billington Moor and Barker Brow, and in Chorley reclamation sites at Withnell Fold, Chisnall Hall and Walton Summit and forestry sites at Healey Nab, Hoghton House, Welch Whittle, Adlington and Albany Academy,
There are 11 recreation and forestry sites in Lancaster including the Conder Green cpoastalm path, the Crook o’Lune /Caton trail,Warton Crag, Jubilee Tower, Claughton Quarry, Little Crag and Birk Bank. Many of the sites do not have any bins. Advisory posters have been placed on those sites affected by the removal plans.