RESIDENTS who are ignoring instructions to self-isolate as much as possible and are creating unsanitary conditions in places where people are taking their daily exercise have been urged to consider the consequences of their actions.

Darlington Borough Council leader Councillor Heather Scott said a significant increase in volumes of traffic since the weekend indicated numerous residents were not taking the government’s social distancing rules seriously enough, while others were disregarding the authority’s decision last week to focus its resources on critical services.

The decision to redeploy council staff from some services such as empting dog mess bins received a mixed reception on social media, with some residents questioning whether they should be given a council tax rebate while others applauded the authority’s move.

Cllr Scott said since the council announced it had stopped emptying dog bins to concentrate on collecting household waste it had received a wave of complaints over mounting piles of dog bags in parks and alongside footpaths where people are taking their daily exercise.

Residents have reported that dog bins across the borough are overspilling and many have piles of dog mess bags around their bases.

Dog mess can lead to Parvo, which is a potentially fatal disease which is transferred between dogs, but the main health issue with dog faeces is that it can lead to toxocariasis in humans.

Cllr Scott said it was vital irresponsible residents did not add to pressure frontline services are facing.

She said: “It is very frustrating that some dog owners are ignoring requests to take their poo bags home with them. People need to be responsible for their own actions. We all have to do what we possibly can to make sure we get through this critical situation as soon as possible.”

The council leader emphasised she was not criticising people for making essential trips to the shops, but she raised concerns some residents appeared to be restocking their supplies far too regularly.

“People should be going out to the shops perhaps once or even twice a week, but certainly not on a daily basis. In Darlington we have been very lucky that we haven’t had that many cases so far, but it is early days. The importance of social distancing is underlined when you see young people who have been affected by it. The evidence now shows that this virus will affect everybody.”