THE Leys Festival could be marred by dog fouling, with a councillor warning of a recent spate at Blackbird Leys Park.

Thousands will flock to the area on Saturday for the festival and will be greeted with new benches, saplings and flowerbeds.

But according to John Dillon, this could all be overshadowed due to dog fouling.

The Blackbird Leys Parish councillor, who has lived there for about 50 years and is a dog walker, has received a series of complaints recently on the issue from fellow residents.

On a routine stroll last Wednesday, he counted more than 30 separate incidents of dog fouling in one corner of the park.

The 67-year-old said: “Most dog owners are decent, and pick up after their pet. But there are just a few persistent offenders I see every day. I call them over and they say they haven’t got a bag. It’s no effort whatsoever.

“When it gets dark, people just let their dogs run, wander around and then put them back on leads to walk home.”

Dog fouling is an ongoing issue for the city council and not confined to Blackbird Leys.

According to information released by the local authority in April, council employees had been called out 2,689 times to clean up dog mess in Oxford since 2013.

The top five most common areas for dog mess were listed, in order from the worst, as Barton, St Clements, Cowley, Blackbird Leys and Churchill.

Mr Dillon, who volunteers at Blackbird Leys IT Zone (Blitz) at the community centre, said he believed the nine-hectare park was a pleasant spot on the whole.

He said: “The city council is doing really well.

“It is planting flowerbeds and has put in new benches, tables and chairs.

“I’m not just thinking about dog owners but children playing in the field, or people who want to sit and have their picnic there on a summer’s day.

“At the Leys Festival, anyone with a stall will have to pick it up themselves and they shouldn’t have to. It’s the owner’s job.”

Parish council chairman Gordon Roper said he thought the problem was bigger at Gillian’s Park.

Some local authorities, including Barking and Dagenham in London, have introduced dog mess DNA tests to track a dog – and its owner – after an offence has been committed. Mr Dillon added: “It’s most definitely a good idea. You could just take the DNA and find it on a database.”

Oxford City Council spokesman Dominic Llewellyn-Jones said: “The technology for DNA tests is there but as there is no current requirement for owners to register their dogs, it’s quite difficult to utilise.

“It’s an ambition of ours but until there is legislation there is not much we can do.”

In 2013, the city council was called out 833 times to dog mess, while last year there were 1,397 instances.

* Has there been a dog fouling problem in your area? Call the newsdesk on 01865 425444.