Agenda item

Public Space Protection Order - Dog Control

The report of the Director – Neighbourhoods is attached.



The Portfolio Holder for Environment and Safety, Councillor Inglis, presented the Report of the Director – Neighbourhoods, outlining the proposed Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for Dog Control in Rushcliffe.


Councillor Inglis explained that the process for this report had commenced in January 2021, when the Communities Scrutiny Group had considered that the current Council resources to undertake dog fouling issues were very limited. Two public consultations were undertaken, with parish councils and the public, both were overwhelmingly supporting of the proposal, with the details of those responses outlined in Appendix Three of the report.  Approval from Cabinet had also been gained to take this forward in supplementing the dog fouling order, which was already in place.  Councillor Inglis explained that current measures fell short for new building and residential areas and their open spaces, as they were not included.  The Council had responsibility to ensure the safety of its residents and visitors for all of its open spaces and Councillor Inglis considered that this PSPO was the right tool to deliver that.  Council was advised that this was a safeguarding tool, it would protect children, minimise risk, and effectively deal with irresponsible dog owners and dog walkers.  Councillor Inglis stressed that prosecution was not the aim of the PSPO, nor was income generation, rather it would be used to target areas and those who took no responsibility for their dogs.  This Order would also help protect all open spaces where the public had access, and to play parks that were fenced or enclosed by exclusion, and having dogs on leads in signed areas, to ensure owners had the means to remove any excrement.


Councillor Inglis appreciated that the majority of dog owners were totally responsible; however, dogs could be unpredictable, as history had shown with unprovoked dog attacks, especially in parks and recreational areas.  Councillor Inglis referred to the unpleasant smell and associated health and hygiene risks of dog poo, and the problem of dog poo bags being hung in trees.  Council was reminded that conscientious owners would have nothing to fear nor have need to change their habits, and Councillor Inglis stated that this PSPO clearly set out the standard for everyone to understand and to follow in helping to keep Rushcliffe safe.


Councillor Inglis advised that the local Police Commander and the Police and Crime Commissioner were both supporting of the PSPO.  The PSPO would allow for an extended investigation capacity, using contracted enforcement officers, currently Wise, on a cost neutral basis, to increase the Council’s capacity in dealing with complaints.  Council was reminded that the four Es, Engage, Explain and Encourage would be considered before an Enforcement was made and any action would be monitored by officers to ensure that it was proportionate and in the public interest.


In conclusion, Councillor Inglis stated that it was disappointing that despite extensive consultation, Tollerton Parish Council had continually requested that their open spaces be excluded from this order, which it had been, but the rest of Rushcliffe had been incorporated.  The reasons for Tollerton’s exclusion were outlined in Appendix Two of the report.


In seconding the recommendation, Councillor Dickman advised that as a conscientious dog owner, he had no concerns or issues regarding this PSPO, and stated that the Order was looking to influence all dog owners to take responsibility for their dogs.  It was pleasing to note the overwhelming public support in the consultation and Councillor Dickman considered that the PSPO requirements were basic and in place for people who had no consideration of others.


Councillor Dickman stated that everyone wanted to enjoy their communities and the PSPO would help to alleviate the concerns of residents who were wary of dogs.  It was important that this PSPO was not seen or reported as a means of fining people, but that its intention was to provide greater safety and enjoyment for all, and he considered that this PSPO would be a welcome and pre-emptive initiative.


Councillor J Walker stated that the Labour Group supported the recommendation and welcomed anything that made this issue more enforceable.


Councillor Price stated that the Liberal Democrat Group supported the initiative. Dog fouling could render public spaces unsafe and unusable, and Councillor Price referred to an ongoing issue in a park in Musters’ ward where the action of a small number of irresponsible dog owners was making the space unusable for local children.  Councillor Price welcomed any additional powers that made enforcement more likely to be successful.


Councillor R Mallender stated that there was no such thing as the ‘dog poo fairy’ and considered this issue to be a problem for all Councillors to a greater or lesser extent. Within Lady Bay there was a wonderful open area, the Hook, and whilst most dog owners were very conscientious, many poo bags were still found in bushes and hanging in trees.  Councillor Mallender advised that whilst he had not been a fan of PSPOs when they were first introduced, he thought that this was an excellent use and supported the recommendation.


Councillor Thomas stated that the Leake Independent Group supported this measure to deal with this issue, which was of such concern to many residents. The requirement to carry poo bags was much more enforceable and also gave opportunities for education. Councillor Thomas welcomed the fact that the public open space on new estates would now be subject to enforcement and hoped that a strong communication campaign would follow the adoption of the PSPO, and that it would be refined in the future to increase its scope.


Councillor Butler agreed that most dog owners were responsible, and it was a shame that the PSPO was required because of a relatively small minority of anti-social people.  Councillor Butler questioned the habit of hanging poo bags in trees and hedges, particularly when this was often very close to a bin. Councillor Butler reiterated that it was a shame that this measure was required; however, if it got the message across to people who were anti-social with their dogs, then it was welcomed.


Councillor Simms stated that as a dog owner, it was irritating to see dog poo and referred to a measure adopted by Newton Parish Council, which had worked well in providing poo bag dispensers. Councillors Simms said that sometime people could run out of bags and suggested that providing bags would act as an incentive in addition to fining people.


Councillor S Mallender referred to the Council’s policy of being plastic free and requested that if the Council did provide bags that they be biodegradable. Council was advised that unfortunately the smell of poo bags if left on the ground was attractive to deer and horses to eat, and as those animals were unable to be sick, eating the plastic could sometimes lead to their death. Councillor Mallender advised that leaving the dog poo on the ground was preferable to leaving it in a plastic bag on the ground or in a tree, as at least it would rot.


It was RESOLVED that the proposed PSPO for the control of dog related anti-social behaviour as set out in Appendix One be approved.

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