Your District Council has responded to the views of local people on proposed dog orders that could become law in public spaces across the Derbyshire Dales from 1 April.
Our Environment Committee will consider plans next Thursday (26 February) to adopt exclusion orders and a dogs-on-leads policy in certain areas - and give council workers powers to issue fixed penalty notices to dog owners who fail to remove dog mess left by their animals in public places.
The proposed orders seek to balance the needs of responsible dog owners against the interests of those affected by dogs, particularly children.
There's a cost and efficiency element to the proposals too: In addition to spending £830,000 on street cleaning every year - including the cost of emptying 350 dog waste bins across the district - dog fouling complaints have doubled in the Derbyshire Dales in recent years.
A report [PDF 1.3MB] to be presented at next week's meeting reveals that while 100% of people responding to a consultation on the issue supported the proposed dog fouling order and excluding dogs from enclosed children's play areas, concerns were expressed about the possibility of excluding dogs from some open sports pitches.
There was support for dogs being kept on leads in cemeteries, churchyards and ornamental gardens, but objections to the possibility of dogs being forced to be kept on leads in large recreational spaces such as the District Council's main parks in Ashbourne, Bakewell and Matlock.
A compromise to be considered by councillors next week is that dogs could continue to be allowed to exercise off the lead on open sports pitches, but some popular locations could be restricted to a dogs-on-leads policy at certain times.
Dogs could be excluded from wet and dry play areas in Matlock's Hall Leys Park and the Recreation Grounds in Ashbourne and Bakewell – and would have to be kept on leads in the rest of the grounds between 11am and 4pm.
The report states:
"This restriction will protect other park users and also protects the welfare of dogs by allowing them to be exercised freely, off the lead, before 11am and after 4pm. These areas will also be covered by a Lead by Direction Order and therefore an officer will be able to direct a dog owner to put the dog on a lead after 4pm or before 11am, should the need arise."
Anyone failing to comply once an order is in place will be issued with a fixed penalty notice by District Council staff or could risk prosecution. A fine of up to £1,000 could be imposed on conviction in a Magistrates' Court. However, it is proposed to offer a fixed penalty notice of £100, reduced to £75 if payment is made early, as an alternative to prosecution. In the consultation, 88% supported the level of the fixed penalty fine.
Before implementing the new orders, the District Council plans to deliver an educational and promotional campaign to raise awareness, including activity days. The report adds:
"Local schools have already expressed serious concerns over the issue of dog fouling and an educational programme involving school children will further help to convey the issues to the wider community."
A full list of the District Council's major parks, recreation grounds plus cemeteries and churchyards across the Dales that could be affected by the new orders is available in the report [PDF 1.3MB]
The public consultation, which followed an earlier more general dog fouling survey – took place between November last year and this January.
- Dog Exclusion Order - The effect of the Order is to make it an offence for a person in charge of a dog to permit the dog to enter or remain on any land to which this Order applies.
- The 'Exclusion of Dogs Order' is designed to create dog-free areas that can be enforced. This is being proposed to combat the problem of dog fouling within specified areas.
- District Council clean and green teams aim to empty dog bins three times a week in town centres and twice a week in outlying areas. Dog mess can also be placed in a bag and put in a regular litter bin if dog bins become full, or disposed of in your domestic waste bin at home. Any problems can be reported online.