Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

BBC slammed over dog mess exercise

A council leader has criticised the BBC after 20 dogs were encouraged to foul a residential street for a TV programme

A council leader has criticised the BBC after 20 dogs were encouraged to foul a residential street for a television programme.

Producers took the pets and their owners on to a street in Preston, Lancashire, as they filmed a series about the potential impact of council cuts.

The programme, called The Street That Cut Everything, charts how residents would manage if council services were withdrawn, and it is understood the exercise was carried out to highlight what would happen if council staff stopped cleaning the streets. The series will be presented by the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson.

Residents in the road, which has been renamed The Street, have been given a council tax rebate but no longer have refuse collection, street cleaning or street lights.

Now the BBC has been criticised by Preston Council's Conservative leader, Ken Hudson MBE, who said he did not believe it was a good way to spend licence fee-payers' money.

"I don't think that by putting 20 dogs on a street to make sure that the street gets fouled by dog droppings is good television really," said Mr Hudson. "We know that the people of the street are a really caring community and I am not sure that they knew just what they were letting themselves in for. I am not sure whether they expected to be picking up dog dirt."

He went on: "We are absolutely appalled that people are leaving dirt on the streets. Normally we would prosecute people for doing that."

Tory MP Stephen Hammond, parliamentary aide to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, said he would be reporting the programme to media regulator Ofcom.

"This is an outrageous piece of scaremongering by the BBC and compromises their editorial integrity," he said. "We need a full and frank explanation from the organisation about how and why this is a good use of taxpayers' cash. I shall be reporting them to Ofcom for what, quite frankly, is an unforgivable breach of editorial standards."

A spokesman for the BBC said: "The filming of the dog-walking scene demonstrates in exaggerated form one of the challenges residents would face if street-cleaning services were cut. The residents rose to the challenge and cleaned up the small amount of dog foul extremely quickly."

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