Dogs are set to be banned from some Devon beaches a month earlier next year as part of new measures giving a council the power to issue £100 on-the-spot fines.
Teignbridge’s executive have backed a proposal for a Public Spaces Protection Order covering the whole of the district with new controls over dogs across the district.
The order is set to come into force from January, and would see the beach dog ban start on April 1, bringing all beaches into line with Dawlish Warren.
Currently under council by-laws the ban on other beaches starts on May 1, in line with other parts of the country.
The beaches set to be covered by the April 1 ban next year are Dawlish Warren, Dawlish Town, Dawlish Coryton Cove, Holcombe, Teignmouth Town, Shaldon and The Ness.
The order agreed by councillors would introduce eight measures including new offences of not having a bag to clear up dog mess and not putting a dog on a lead on a road or path.
Councillors also agreed a new measure to limit the number of dogs being walked by an individual to four at any one time.
Offenders will face a fixed penalty notice or prosecution for more serious offences.
The new rules
Here is the full list of the offences that can be committed by a person in charge of a dog in Teignbridge:
Fouling – not picking up its faeces straight away;
Means to pick up – not carrying a bag or other means of clearing up at all times;
Dog exclusion areas (except beaches) – letting a dog enter a dog ban area, such as a children’s play park;
Seasonal dog exclusion areas (beaches) – allowing it on a beach specified with a ban between April 1 and September 30;
Dogs on lead areas – not keeping a dog on a lead in designated areas;
Dogs on leads on the highway – not keeping a dog on a lead on a road or footpath alongside a road, or cycle and walking routes away from roads;
Dogs on leads by direction – not complying when told by an authorised council officer or police officer to put a dog on a lead;
Restriction on number of dogs – an individual walking more than four dogs at any one time.
Anyone breaking the rules can be given a £100 fixed penalty.
Councillors agreed to review the April 1 beach dog ban start date in 12 months.
The proposal for the order was brought forward after public consultation. Councillors agreed to give officers the power to impose £100 fixed penalty notices or prosecute if the offence is serious enough.
Environmental protection manager David Eaton told councillors: “The aim is not to penalise responsible dog owners, but to target those who are persistently failing to comply with the proposed controls, using the powers available to us.”
The meeting heard the council has three enforcement officers who cover the district.
They could be moved around to target problem areas.
Mr Eaton said people could report offenders to the council by identifying them or taking a car registration number which the authority could then investigate.
Cllr Sylvia Russell, Conservative for Teignmouth East, and in charge of health and wellbeing, urged a rethink of bringing the beach ban forward.
She said: “I really don’t want to see dog owners demonised, because the majority out there are responsible.”
But other councillors suggested the ban would improve water quality and the experience for holidaymakers, who started arriving from Easter.
Cllr Rosalind Prowse, Conservative member for Dawlish South West, said some people in the town turned their dogs out into the street when it got dark.
She said: “We are sitting here for half an hour discussing what we shouldn’t have to, because people don’t have a social conscience.”
She said she did not think three officers was enough to tackle the scale of the problem across the district.
The district of Teignbridge includes Newton Abbot and stretches from Exminster near Exeter in the north to Buckfastleigh and Ashburton in the west, and south to Dawlish and Teignmouth.
The committee’s decision will come into force in seven days from Tuesday, October 30, unless it is called in for review.