Liverpudlians can avoid paying council tax for a year if they take pictures of neighbours who fail to clear up after their dogs, the city’s mayor has promised.
Snoopers will also be rewarded for providing evidence against fly-tippers and those who do not recycle properly as part of a bid to crack down on “environmental criminals”.
Joe Anderson, Liverpool’s first directly elected mayor, said the move would be cost neutral, however experts have warned it could leave the council vulnerable to legal challenge if it failed to show value for money.
He told the council’s cabinet that the smell of dog mess in some parts of the city was now “totally unacceptable”.
“That is why I am saying that if you provide us with identity of someone who allows their dogs to foul the streets and doesn’t clear it up and that leads to a prosecution, then we will give you your council tax for free,” he said.
Mr Anderson said this could be done by providing photographs or video evidence, or by confidentially informing the council of the identities of repeat offenders.
He added that the policy would pay for itself because the council would fine offenders the maximum penalty of £1,000 each.
An estimated 21,000 tonnes of recyclable goods are needlessly thrown into landfill each year because residents fail to put the waste in the proper bins, according to the city council.
The missed recycling adds costs of about £1.2 million a year and is frustrating the body’s aim to recycle 55 per cent of waste by 2020.
It is about putting civil pride back into the community,” he said.
“I need people to tell me where they know people are throwing bags in an alleyway the day after bin collection.”
“I wouldn’t call anyone who allows their dog to foul outside my house a neighbour.
“I class them as totally irresponsible and don’t care about their community.”
Mr Anderson appeared to suggest the last straw for him had been the sight of his wife returning home from a walk “with dog muck all over his shoes”.
“In certain parts of Liverpool now, you get out of your car and you are hit by the smell of it - it’s totally unaccpetable.”
Last night legal experts warned that the new scheme could be challenged in the courts by auditors or other tax payers if the tax exemptions ended up costing the council money.
Helen Randall, a leading local government partner at Trowers & Hamlins said disputes over what constitutes evidence leading to a prosecution could tie the council up in litigation which may compromise its legal duty to obtain value for money.
“This is a very unusual idea,” said, adding that in order not to breach nationwide tax laws, Liverpool City Council would end up having to pay people’s council tax bill themselves, rather than technically waving it.
“They would have to be legally quite creative, but they could manage it,” she said.
The proposals, which will be formally put to the council next month, are being opposed by the Liberal Democrat opposition, whose leader Richard Kemp said they would not yield many fines.
He argued for more dog wardens rather than neighbours reporting each other.