INCREASING numbers of complaints about dog fouling and out of control dogs in public places in Mid Devon has led to the council proposing stricter controls.
Mid Devon District Council’s cabinet is being recommended to go out to consultation and plans to extend and expand the existing dog control powers in the district.
The draft Public Spaces Protection Order would see fines of £100 issued to anyone whose dog is caught fouling in public, if they don’t have their dog on a lead in some cemeteries and parks, if they allow their dog to enter children’s play areas, or are walking more than four dogs at once.
The order also means that fines can be issued to anyone who is unable to provide evidence that they have the means to pick up after their dog or if they ignore a request by an authorised officer or a police constable to put their dog on a lead.
The report to the cabinet outlines how it can consider widening enforcement powers, in order to deliver a cleaner and more sustainable environment across the District within the Mid Devon District Council Boundary.
Anyone breaching the new controls would be given a fixed penalty notice at the maximum level permitted of £100.
The draft order prohibits dog fouling on any land which is open to the air, including covered land which is open on at least one side, and to which the public are entitled and permitted to have access, with the exception of Forestry Commission Land.
If a dog defecates at any time the person in charge of the dog must remove the faeces from the land forthwith.
The order says that a person in charge of a dog must have the appropriate means to pick up the faeces and must produce this if required to do so by an authorised officer or a police constable.
If they are unable to produce a device for (or other suitable means of) removing dog faeces and transporting it to a bin (whether or not the dog has defecated), provided it is on designated land and the offender is not exempted, it would be considered an offence.
DOGS ON LEADS
The draft order says that dogs must be on leads if they are in any public cemetery, any public park, or if requested by an authorised officer or a police constable.
The cemeteries the restrictions apply to are: St Matthew’s, Cheriton Fizpaine; Black Dog, Crediton, Colebrooke, Wembworthy, Halberton, Bradninch, All Saints, Culmstock; St Mary’s, Hemyock; Uffculme (War Memorial), St Mary’s, Uffculme; St Andrew’s, Cullompton, Tiverton, St Mary’s, Willand Parish Cemetery.
Dogs must be on leads in the following parks and open spaces: Beacon Park, Crediton; Cromwell’s Meadow, Crediton; Chawleigh, Newcombes Meadow, Crediton; People’s Park, Crediton; Queen Elizabeth Drive, Crediton; School Road, Silverton; Southfield Drive, Crediton; St Lawrence Green, Crediton; Victoria Crescent, Crediton in addition to parks at Cullompton, Silverton, Culmstock, Hemyock, Bradninch, Uffculme, Willand and Tiverton.
DOGS IN CHILDREN’S PLAY AREAS
The order excludes dogs from children’s play areas locally as listed, and an offence is committed if an individual in charge of a dog at any time takes a dog onto, or permits the dog to enter or remain on, any land to which the order applies.
The areas where dogs are banned would be: Barns Close, Bradninch; Townlands, Bradninch; Station Road, Bray Close, Burlescombe; Barnfield, Crediton; Chaffinch Drive, Crediton; Churchlands, Bow; Fernworthy, Copplestone; Fulda Crescent, Crediton; Glebelands, Cheriton Bishop; Godfreys Garden, Bow; Greenaway, Morchard Bishop; Greenway, Crediton; Lapford Play Area; Lords Meadow, Crediton; Skate Park, Crediton; New Buildings, Sandford; Queen Elizabeth Drive, Crediton; Spinning Path Gardens, Crediton; St Martin’s Close, Bow; Sunnymead, Copplestone; Town Barton, Sandford; Tuckers Meadow, Crediton; Walnut Drive, Crediton and play areas at Cullmpton, Hemyock, Sampford Peverell, Tiverton, Uffculme and Willand.
LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF DOGS BEING WALKED
The order says that unless someone has reasonable excuse or permission from the owner of the land on which the dogs are being walked/exercised, four dogs is the maximum number of dogs that can be walked at one time.
Putting forward the recommendation, the report says: “The Council receives a significant number of complaints about dog fouling and out of control dogs in public places each year.
"In 2017/18, there were more than 100 reports to the authority in relation to dog fouling.
“PSPOs are available to local authorities to deal with specific nuisance problems in particular areas that are, or are likely to have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of people in the area.
“Dog fouling is unsightly and unpleasant and in turn can lead to serious illness in humans, such as Toxocariasis, from direct contact with the faeces on the ground which can also lead to blindness. Particular concern is raised in relation to children and sports users using parks and open spaces.”
Subject to approval by the cabinet, consultation with residents and relevant stakeholders will take place before a final decision on the PSPO is made.
For breaches of the PSPO, the Council may issue a fixed penalty notice in order to provide an alternative to prosecution, with the proposed penalty of £100 is designed to maximise the deterrent.
The fixed penalty is not payable on the spot but must be paid within 14 days, and if there is a refusal to pay the fixed penalty, the case may be taken to court – with a potential fine of up to £1,000 plus costs.
Exemptions to the order would cover those needing assistance dogs or with some form of disability, as well as exemptions for certain working dogs i.e. those involved in law enforcement, military duties, statutory emergency services and search/rescue.