Revealed: Council splashes £3.8k taking RAF veteran to court over dog mess

John Churchill with his dog Shaka (right). Picture: Stephen Goodger
John Churchill with his dog Shaka (right). Picture: Stephen Goodger

Worthing Borough Council spent nearly £4,000 taking an RAF veteran to court over a £50 dog mess fine, the Herald can exclusively reveal.

After John Churchill, 77, refused to pay a fine for not immediately clearing up after his Alsatian Shaka, the council took him to court in September and won.

The cost of enforcement is not a consideration and can never be

Council spokesman

But the legal and admin costs of doing so amounted to a staggering £3,881.67, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Mr Churchill, who lives with his wife in Durrington Hill, said: “I think it’s ludicrous.

“The real problem is the dog warden has no discretion but then there is no appeal.

“I avoided going to court initially. I wrote a long letter to the council explaining my actions and it should have then been a discretionary matter and I then should not have been given a fine.”

Appearing at Crawley Magistrates Court on September 26, Mr Churchill was found guilty of not picking up after his dog at The Sanctuary in High Salvington in March.

Mr Churchill told the court the fine was unfair since he cleared up the mess quickly after being alerted.

He took issue with the law wording, which says owners must clear mess ‘forthwith’, saying that he did.

A Freedom of Information request by the Herald showed the high cost to the council of taking Mr Churchill to court.

The council spent £3,695 on legal advice and hiring a solicitor to represent them in court, as well as £186.67 on other costs for the case.

The council’s total bills of £3,881.67 far eclipse the £260 Mr Churchill was ordered to repay by magistrates.

A spokesman for Worthing Borough Council said: “The Council takes the issue of dog fouling very seriously. It is public health issue.

“As such the cost of enforcement is not a consideration and can never be when carrying out council policy, in this case our robust approach to curbing dog fouling.”

Mr Churchill said he had strongly considered appealing the verdict.

This would have meant a trip to Crown Court and probably much higher fees for the council.

But Mr Churchill has since decided not to and has paid the Fixed Penalty Notice.

Do you think dog fouling laws need changing? Do you think the council was right to take Mr Churchill to court?

Email your views to news@worthingherald.co.uk.