The Mobile Multi-Functional Manager presented the report on Public Space Protection Orders advising members of options and seeking permission to consult residents on revised Public Spaces Protection Orders for parks and open spaces in relation to dog control and anti-social behaviour.
The order was drafted to be as flexible as possible and enabled a local authority to effectively target enforcement. Options were twofold:
- take no action, which would allow the current dog control orders to cease in October 2023 and not be replaced; this would remove all controls and thus eliminate the need for investigation and enforcement with potential savings however may result in standards of public places being reduced and increase risks of conflict between dog owners and other users.
- amend proposed controls prior to the consultation: members may wish to change the proposed scope for the controls such as the requirement to carry bags or limit the number of dogs which could be walked in specific areas; including other controls proportionate to the location and evidence based may also be considered; the types of locations where the controls apply could finally be amended.
Risks associated with each option would need to be taken into consideration.
Members raised comments and responses were provided as follows:
- Cllr G. Williams expressed concerns about how many dogs one person was allowed to take out at once. – The maximum six dogs’ provision was indeed one of the most controversial and members were welcome to suggest amendments to be taken to public consultation.
- Cllr Hutchison asked whether it was possible to add open spaces to the list provided in appendix B. – Yes any missed location could be suggested.
- Cllr Sweeney wondered why some of the areas were highlighted in yellow and what the LEAP code stood for. – The code was referring to the type of play areas and the yellow highlight was for a type of open spaces.
- Cllr Adcock said that doing nothing did not sound like an appropriate option considering the potential dangers relating to any dogs and wished to support the recommendation.
- Cllr Dymond asked what enforcement would be brought about for the measures. – There were currently two dog wardens in the Mobile Multi-Functional team and training was provided to other members of the team as well as town rangers to gain the required skills. Residents were also encouraged to report issues online and provide photographic evidence whenever possible.
- Cllr Whieldon suggested there could be dog parks. – This could be considered indeed and members were welcome to suggest potential suitable locations.
- The Chair asked whether options like in North Wales where dogs were only allowed to go on the beach from 1st October to 30th April could be taken into consideration; signs were displayed providing a direct phone number to report anyone bringing their dog during the summer season. – It was confirmed that seasonal access to certain locations could be looked at. Processes to make it easier for members of the public to report issues and for these to be addressed efficiently were also being reviewed.
- Cllr J. Williams warned against the risk that measures taken against irresponsible dog owners could disproportionately affect responsible dog owners respectful of the public space. – Dog owners would be encouraged to take part in the consultation so that a balance could be found.
Resolved: That the launching of a consultation on a proposed public spaces protection order as detailed in Appendix A be approved.