The summer dog beach ban in Teignbridge will be brought forward to April 1 as part of new controls on dogs that have been agreed.
A public space protection order across the district will be introduced from January 1, 2019, and would enable council officers to fine offenders £100 if they breach the eight controls.
The executive on Tuesday morning agreed that the restriction on the number of dogs should be four and that the beach ban on affected beaches should start from April 1, despite councillors on the overview and scrutiny committee asking them to look again at the two controls.
A review group will be set up to monitor the effectiveness of the new PSPO, which will also explore body warn cameras for officers to increase the number of prosecutions.
The proposed PSPO would contain eight controls. They are:
FOULING – making it an offence if a person in charge of a dog fails to pick up its faeces straight away.
MEANS TO PICK UP – making it an offence if a person in charge of a dog does not carry a bag or other means of clearing up after their dog at all times.
DOG EXCLUSION AREAS (EXCEPT BEACHES) – making it an offence for a person in charge of a dog, to let a dog be in dog ban area (e.g. Children’s play park).
SEASONAL DOG EXCLUSION AREAS (BEACHES) – an offence for a person in charge of a do between April 1 and September 30, to take the dog onto, or permit the dog to enter or to remain on, any beach designated as a dog ban area. The beaches are Dawlish Warren, Dawlish Town, Dawlish Coryton Cove, Teignmouth Town and Shaldon.
DOGS ON LEAD AREAS – an offence if a person in charge of a dog at any time does not keep the dog on a lead on land designated as a dog on lead area.
DOG(S) ON LEAD ON THE HIGHWAY – an offence if, at any time, a person in charge of a dog does not keep the dog on a lead, whilst on a road or footpaths adjacent to a road.
DOG(S) ON LEAD BY DIRECTION – an offence if at any time within a dog ban area, a person in charge of a dog does not comply with a direction given to him by an authorised officer of the council or police officer to put and keep the dog on a lead.
RESTRICITION ON THE NUMBER OF DOGS – restrict the number of dogs that can be walked by a single individual on or off the lead to four.
Anyone breaching any of the eight controls are liable for £100 on-the-spot fines.
Questions had been raised about bringing forward the beach ban from May 1 to April 1, as well as restricting dogs on lead to four, and the initial decision of the executive made in October had been called-in for further scrutiny.
Cllr John Nutley said he was concerned about how restricting the number of dogs to four would affect businesses who make their livelihoods looking after dogs, while Cllr Martin Wrigley said that although it was good they were moving forward with this, it was slightly disturbing that the restrictions would hit responsible dog owners. He added: “We need to look at how we control the irresponsible dog owners.”
However the executive decided to go ahead and implement the initial decision that they made, with the beach ban being brought forward to April 1 and the number of dogs that can be walked at once restricted to four.
But Cllr Jeremy Christophers, leader of the council, said: “We though the right approach was for a consistent approach for all beaches for the exclusion and we decided that April 1 was the right date. It will be down to a review group to do more analysis about different beach dates and for them to make their cases.
“This PSPO will make it easier for us to take action under this order against those who are dog fouling, which is a massive issue in the district. It is not okay for people to let their dogs foul up the district and rob areas where people can exercise.
“We will also look at body warn cameras as a way of collecting evidence as we need to make it a lot easier to get the quality of evidence to make the right decisions.”
Cllr Kevin Lake added: “This PSPO is an excellent way to take forward prosecutions.”
The executive unanimously agreed to introduce the eight aspects of the PSPO.
The PSPO follows a public consultation that took place last year and a call made the previous year by Cllr Chris Clarance to ban all dogs from all playing fields when the council was discussing a review of the Teignbridge dog-fouling policy.
A report of David Eaton, environmental protection manager, said: “The order is required to effectively tackle irresponsible dog ownership within the Teignbridge District.
The aim is not to penalise responsible dog owners but to target persistent offenders who refuse to comply with the proposed controls. Consideration will be given to the ability of the owner to exercise control over the dogs before taking enforcement action.
“A person observed not to be complying with the PSPO is liable to receive a fixed penalty notice. We are recommending that the fine is set at £100. Officers also have powers to issue Community Protection Notices or prosecute if the offence warrants the sanction.”
Mr Eaton added: “The PSPO will enhance the existing controls. The law in the past on dog control has been patchy, so a PSPO will help the council deal with the minority of irresponsible dog owners who don’t clear up after their dog or control it.
“A frustration to officers and members has been the inability to deal with dog fouling on roads that do not have a national speed limit of less that 40mph. This means that many of our rural areas had no controls on dog fouling on the highway.
“For the many responsible dog owners who pick up after their dog wherever they go, nothing will change. Inconsiderate dog owners would be targeted through awareness and enforcement.”
The PSPO would initially last for three years, but could be varied or discharged by the council during that period.