Hundreds have signed a petition to reinstate dog waste bins on a canal footpath after a “disgusting” increase in mess.

Many residents were left unhappy with the Canal and River Trust’s (CRT) decision to remove dog waste bins from the canal towpath, between Devizes and Caen Hill Locks, in August.

The trust confirmed the policy is in place at many towpaths in the South West to cut “soaring costs” which, combined with falling funding, “threaten the future of the nation’s historic canals.”

But locals claim they have since seen a “resulting mess” and have launched a petition to reinstate the bins, which had been signed by just under 300 people at the time of writing.

The petition, started by Amanda Humphreys, said: “Caen Locks is a huge visitor attraction and is also used by many, many locals on a daily basis.

“The CRT can no longer afford to provide a dog poo bin facility and the bins have been removed. The resulting mess is clear for all to see.

“Although in an ideal world, every dog owner would be responsible and take their bags home, they clearly don't so something needs to be done.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The Kennet & Avon CanalThe Kennet & Avon Canal (Image: Getty)

Town Councillor Judy Rose, who shared the petition, sympathised with the position of the CRT but was fearful of the impact on the popular footpath.

She added: “I can understand the issues of continuing to provide bins, but I think the potential problem of abandoned bags, or just piles of dog poo scattered at random on the towpath, are a great deal worse.

“My concern is it’s fine for locals to take their dog poo home, but Caen Hill is a significant tourist site and I’m not sure what visitors are supposed to do, it might be more difficult for them to dispose of.”

The petition called on Devizes Town Council to take over the running of the bins, something the CRT offered them the chance to do in August.

But town clerk Simon Fisher told this paper that the town council had no plans to take on the bins due to the “inordinate amount of money” and time it would take to manage them.

He emphasised that the town council already provides bins at most entrances and exits to the towpath and that it is the responsibility of dog owners to dispose of their pet’s waste properly.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The Kennet & Avon CanalThe Kennet & Avon Canal (Image: Getty)

He said: “The hope is walkers will take their waste home or to a bin, we have bins at most exit points and most people will be able to find a bin fairly close to the towpath.

“All we are asking people to do is walk a bit further, carry their waste off the canal and use a general waste bin, where we will remove it.”

Mr Fisher added that the town council is willing to monitor areas off the canal where there is increased waste and will provide new or bigger bins if necessary.

Mark Evans, the CRT’s regional director, previously explained that removing bins on the Kennet & Avon Canal would save around £39,000.

He said: “Our priority must be maintaining the core fabric of the waterways, including the thousands of locks, bridges, aqueducts and historic structures that make up the canal network, so that we can continue to provide free access to towpaths for millions of people and maintain the integrity of the infrastructure to keep communities safe.

“The decision to remove bins will save much-needed money that will help pay for a long list of vital repairs.”

Mr Evans also pointed out that the trust is responsible for large sections of canals that have achieved Green Flag Award status despite not providing bins.