The council has made changes to its rules on dogs in public places, following a consultation with residents and interested organisations.
We drew up proposed new rules last year and asked people what they thought. More than 300 responses were received.
Revised rules, taking the responses into account, were agreed by the Community Board yesterday.
The new rules are the same as the ones now in force in the borough, except as follows:
- The maximum number of dogs one person can control in a public space will be four, instead of six at present.
- People walking a dog will have to put it on a lead if a council officer believes it is causing a nuisance or worrying other animals.
- People walking a dog will have to carry something enabling them to pick up dog mess, and will have to show this to an officer if asked.
Cllr Graham Burgess, Chairman of the Community Board, said: "In a densely-populated borough like Gosport, new rules are needed to deal with people leaving dog mess in public spaces and not controlling their dogs.
"Councillors get a lot of complaints about these issues. For many residents they're a big concern.
"We've modified the rules a lot to meet the worries of dog owners and dog walkers, but public spaces are for everyone to share, and we need to take action on the problems that exist.
"That's why we're reducing the number of dogs one person is allowed to walk from six to four. We understand that some dog owners and walkers did not support this, but we've had recent feedback from the public in general that has been in support of it.
"People will also have to carry something enabling them to pick up dog mess, and council officers will be able to direct people to put their dog on a lead. These two measures got decisive backing in the consultation.
"We know most people who own or walk dogs are responsible. The rules are aimed at the minority who aren't. We hope responsible people will tell us if they spot someone breaking the rules."
Dogs will still be allowed on sports pitches, unless they are being used for an organised event. As long as someone walks no more than four dogs, there will be no limit imposed on the number off-lead.
The council is to look into the possibility of a dog-walker education scheme to encourage responsible behaviour.
Why does the council have to change its rules?
At the moment its 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 have a new kind of order, called a public spaces protection order (PSPO).
When will the PSPO come into force?
On 1 May 2017. It will be in force for three years.
Why are you reducing 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 rules are very different from those proposed last year. Following the consultation, the following changes were made:
· Instead of a blanket ban on dogs from sports pitches, they will now only be banned from pitches while they are in use for organised events.
· Instead of a ban on dogs at all enclosed children's play areas, they will now only be banned 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 was dropped.
Will dogs be banned from the prom at Stokes Bay and Lee-on-the-Solent?
No – this was never proposed. As now, they will 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 will be the penalty for not obeying the new rules?
The council will 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 will be exempt from the rules.