AN ULVERSTON councillor has bemoaned an increase in dog mess around the town's streets over winter with irresponsible pet owners using the cover of darkness to avoid detection.

Cllr David Webster believes the longer nights over the colder months encourage people to be more lax about cleaning up after their dogs.

"Kids go to school, they get it on their shoes," he said.

"They take it into their schools, they take it into their houses.

"It's every year around this time. When the nights get darker, there's more being left on the street."

A town council meeting this month was told by a resident that Meeting House Lane had become a problem and that autumn leaves disguised dog mess.

A locality officer at South Lakeland District Council told the meeting more reflective signs encouraging responsible behaviour from dog owners would be going up around town.

She said handing out punishments could be difficult as a dog owner would need to be witnessed not picking up after their pet in order for them to be fined.

Cllr Webster, 66, felt that, for this reason, the best way to tackle the problem of dog fouling was to educate pet owners and appeal to them to clean up after their animals.

"The vast majority of dog owners do pick up," he said.

"But there's also the few that won't, that don't for whatever reason."

Cllr Webster said that, although dog fouling remained a 'big issue' at this of the year, it was less of a problem than it had been.

"When I was a child, people used to open their doors, their dogs went out and came back when they were hungry," he said.

"They would roam the streets.

"Some streets used to be called 'dog-poo alley'."

According to campaign group Keep Britain Tidy, people who fail to clean up after their dogs could be issued with fixed penalty notices of up to £100. This could rise to £1,000 if the case goes to court.

The group points out on its website that being unaware a dog has fouled or not having a suitable bag 'is not a reasonable excuse' in the eyes of the law.