Tightening dog fouling measures could send out a message that Flintshire wants to ban dogs.
As councillors debated on stronger measures to curb fouling in public places, Cllr Veronica Gay expressed her concern that the local authority would be seen as “dog bashing”.
Members of Flintshire Council’s environment overview and scrutiny committee have called for more time for consultation on plans to prevent dogs from being exercised on marked sports pitches after a lengthy debate yesterday.
Councillors backed tighter controls as part of a new public space protection order (PSPO), including the complete exclusion of dogs from a defined area or keeping dogs on leads in certain open spaces at all times, such as children’s play areas and other formal recreation areas.
It was felt though that further consultation was needed on the use of marked sports pitches for dogs, owing to a lack of alternative exercise areas.
Cllr Paul Shotton proposed that dog owners be allowed to walk their pets around the perimeter of a marked pitch while on a lead.
While in agreement, Cllr Veronica Gay offered some concerns.
She said: “This is such a major thing, we’ve done so much work on this.
“I feel strongly about this and support Cllr Shotton on this area.
“I’m a bit worried we’re doing a bit of dog bashing. The majority of dog owners are responsible that pick up mess. We don’t want to ban dogs from Flintshire but to owners that perception is out there.
“Can we not look at dog-specific areas and installing dog walking areas?”
Cllr Chris Bithell, cabinet member for planning and public protection, said in his ward, rugby teams had to spend up to an hour clearing mess from pitches before matches.
He said statistics suggested a majority of respondents to the council’s public consultation had backed the plans to bar dogs from marked areas.
He said: “This is a major issue as far as the public are concerned.
“A total of 68 per cent is a significant number; it’s not a Brexit result at the halfway mark.
“It’s important to grasp the nettle and do something about this.
“We’ve tried to deal with this in the past but it hasn’t been effective for one reason or another.”
Flintshire Council’s existing public space protection order currently only requires dog owners to pick up after their animals and will expire in October.
Cllr Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for Streetscene and countryside, said it was “important to cater for dog owners” as their animals provide exercise for themselves and the pets.
“If that is not being provided, we are going against the Dog Welfare Act,” she added.
Cllr Thomas said the local authority would not be able to provide specific dog walking areas, this was a matter for town and community council.
The committee agreed to recommend to cabinet that the PSPO go ahead, with a period of consultation on marked sports pitches at a town and community council level.