Concerns Flintshire will be seen as negative towards dogs over tighter fouling controls

Reporter:

David Humphreys

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.

Email:

david.humphreys@nwn.co.uk

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  • Stephen Lynch

    18:06, 21 September 2017

    Cllr Chris Bithell is talking nonsense. He states it takes an hour to clear the pitch of dog mess before a game can take place. Before every game on any public pitch a full inspection must take place to ensure no foreign objects such as glass, stones, dog mess etc are on the pitch. This is usually done by both teams which is 20 to 30 people all in an extended line across the pitch walking the full length of the pitch and removing anything that may cause harm or injury. This exercise takes 5 to 10 minutes and must be done regardless if all dogs are banned from the area or not. Where Cllr Bithell is getting his information from I don't know, but he's way off the mark with this one.

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  • HettieHughes

    14:02, 21 September 2017

    All Flintshire Council are interested in is handing all responsibility for litter and dog fouling to a private contractor because of it's own abject failure to properly enforce the current order. I wonder who gains from that cosy proposal at the expense of the thousands of responsible dog owners across the county. To take the drastic step of banning dogs from marked sports pitches it would require strict enforcement, so why can't this same enforcement just be used to fine the owners who are not picking up their dog mess? Why should all dog owners be penalised because of a minority? It's a lazy and ill thought out proposal that will just force dog walkers onto the pavements and busy roads with all the consequences that entails.

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  • Diane Diolch

    23:11, 20 September 2017

    The elephant in the room is that this discussion is only taking place because of the failure to police the requirement to pick up dog mess. Who's to say that whatever rule FCC put in place will not be flouted too? Any way forward needs adequate resource to police correctly, that means putting feet on the ground and giving authority to hand out fines that will act as a punishment for those not following the rules and as a deterrent for those who are thinking of it. My own suggestion for what it is worth is to look at why the existing Public Space Protection Order has been ineffective, then look at fixing it. One last comment, Cllr Chris Bithells' suggestion that a rugby field has enough dog dirt on it to require one hour of cleaning should not be seen as a reason to introduce new rules, but should actually shame FCC into looking at why people are getting away with it, especially now that you have acquired this guilty knowledge.

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