Gosport Borough Council has made changes to proposed new rules on dogs in public places, following a consultation with residents and interested organisations.
The council drew up the proposed new rules last year and asked people what they thought. More than 300 responses were received, with most against the proposals.
Revised proposals, taking the responses into account, will now be considered by the council's Community Board on 8 March. The board will decide whether the revised proposals should come into effect.
Following the consultation, the council has dropped a proposed blanket ban on dogs at sports pitches and play areas. It has also dropped a proposal that anyone walking three or more dogs could only have two off-lead at a time.
Cllr Graham Burgess, Chairman of the Community Board, said: "I'd like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation and helped us shape these new rules.
"We had a lot of responses to this consultation, which is excellent. The whole point was to listen to what people had to say, and we were happy to revise the proposals.
"Many dog owners and dog walkers had strong views, which we've taken into account. I hope this is clear from the changes we've made.
"Under the revised proposals, dogs would still be allowed on sports pitches, unless they were being used for an organised event. And we are no longer proposing a limit to the number of dogs one person could have off-lead.
"However, in a densely-populated borough like Gosport, we do believe new rules are needed to deal with people leaving dog mess in public spaces and not controlling their dogs.
"Councillors get many complaints from residents about these issues. They're very high on the list of local people's concerns.
"That's why we're still proposing that people must carry something enabling them to pick up dog mess, and that council officers can direct people to put their dog on a lead. These two measures got decisive backing in the consultation.
"We're also still proposing to reduce the number of dogs one person is allowed to walk.
"We know the majority of people who own or walk dogs are responsible. The proposals are aimed at the minority who aren't.
"We hope responsible people will tell us if they spot someone breaking the rules."
Following the consultation, the proposed new rules would be the same as the rules on dogs currently in force in the borough, except as follows:
- The maximum number of dogs one person could control in a public space would be four, instead of six at present.
- People walking a dog would have to put it on a lead if a council officer believed it was causing a nuisance or worrying other animals.
- People walking a dog would have to carry something enabling them to pick up dog mess, and would have to show this to an officer if asked.
Why does the council have to change its rules?
At the moment the rules are part of a dog control order. This expires in October, under national legislation. If the council wants to continue having rules on dogs, then it has to agree a new kind of order, called a public spaces protection order (PSPO).
When would the PSPO come into force?
On 1 May 2017. It would be in force for three years.
Why are the proposed rules different from those in force now?
The council is aware of longstanding concerns from local people about dog mess, and dogs not under proper control. We need to strengthen the rules to meet these concerns.
Why are you proposing to reduce the number of dogs one person is allowed to control, from six to four?
Gosport borough is densely populated compared to other areas, and we have to consider all users of public spaces.
Has the council listened to dog owners and dog walkers?
Yes. The proposals to be considered on 8 March are very different from those drawn up last year.
How do the revised proposals differ from the proposals drawn up last year?
Following the consultation, the following changes have been made:
- Instead of a blanket ban on dogs from sports pitches, the proposal is now only to ban dogs from pitches while they are in use for organised events.
- Instead of a ban on dogs at all enclosed children's play areas, the proposal is now only to ban them from areas with fixed play equipment.
- It was proposed that anyone in charge of three or more dogs could only have two off-lead at any one time. This proposal has been dropped.
How did the responses break down?
We received 339 responses to the original proposals. There were 65 in support of them, and 185 against. There were 78 mixed responses and 11 responses which simply asked questions.
Where can I see the details of what is being proposed?
You can download the 8 March agenda here.
What will happen on 8 March?
The Community Board will discuss the proposed new rules and decide whether they should come into effect in May. The decision does not need to be confirmed at a full council meeting.
Can the public attend or speak?
It is a public meeting. To speak, you need to apply to make a deputation.
Would dogs be banned from the prom at Stokes Bay and Lee-on-the-Solent?
No – this was never proposed. As now, they would be banned from the beach between 1 May and 30 September.
What is a "public place"?
It is any place where the public have access, on payment or otherwise, as a right or with permission.
What would be the penalty for not obeying the new rules?
The council would have the power to issue a £100 fine, reduced to £50 if paid within a week. Failure to pay could result in court action.
What about guide dogs?
Anyone using a guide or assistance dog would be exempt from the rules.