Dogs will be banned from marked sports pitches across Flintshire, despite opposition from leading animal charities.
Tighter dog control measures will take hold in October after Flintshire Council’s cabinet formally ratified a new public space protection order (PSPO).
Within that includes a measure to bar pets from marked sports pitches despite concerns being raised by members of the authority’s environment overview and scrutiny committee that it would lead to a lack of space to exercise dogs.
While agreeing to the tighter controls, cabinet members agreed that discussions would be held with town and community councils over alternative spaces for dog walkers.
The new order allows Flintshire Council to enforce the complete exclusion of dogs from a defined area or keeping dogs on leads in certain open spaces at all times, such as cemeteries, children’s play areas and other formal recreation areas.
The existing public space order only calls on dog owners to pick up after their pets and will be replaced on October 20.
The beach at Talacre will be excluded from the new order.
Cllr Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for Streetscene and environment, acknowledged that the issue had been “hugely emotive with strong views for and against”.
She added that the move to bar access to pitches had been opposed by the RSPCA and the Kennel Club and that a suggestion by Cllr Paul Shotton at scrutiny proposing that dog owners be allowed to walk their pets around the perimeter of a marked pitch while on a lead would be “hard to control.”
Cllr Thomas added that the Streetscene department has no funding available to provide additional areas for dog walking and it would be left up to town and community councils or community groups to source it.
Cllr Chris Bithell, cabinet member for planning and public protection, said he was “startled” by some of the objections he had heard.
“We can’t afford to run public conveniences in the county and now we’re being asked to do it for dogs,” he said.
Cllr Bernie Attridge, council deputy leader and cabinet member for housing, launched a impassioned plea to colleagues to support a blanket ban.
He said: “I find it bizarre the people want to go out for six months of consultation on whether dogs can leave mess on football fields.
“Games are getting stopped across the county to get muck off.
“It’s sickening to see kids covered head to toe in dog muck on marked fields.
“It’s high time we took a principled stance.
“Until people know there’s a zero tolerance approach for health and wellbeing, this won’t be solved until there’s a ban on dogs from marked pitches.
“I wish we had the funding to fence off all marked pitches but we need to stop this disgusting occurrence.”
Council leader Aaron Shotton said the PSPO was about “respect” and recognised the majority of dog walkers behave responsibly.
He added that it was important to clarify when a marked pitch was in use.
“It’s about keeping them clean,” he said. “We’ve got to be mindful of views and the fear of losing open space for dog walkers.
“That shouldn’t restrict us from introducing this policy.”
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