To consider a report from the Corporate Director for Place Services.
Members considered a report which set out the content of the consultation for a Dog-related Public Spaces protection Order (PSPO) to replace and consolidate existing PSPOs and byelaws for the Dorset Council area.
Members were also asked to consider the time extension of current Dog-related PSPOs covering the former East Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset and Weymouth and Portland council areas to 31 December 2020 to enable the new Order to be properly made.
The Cabinet Member for Customer, Communities and Regulatory Services advised members that any changes made during the consultation period would require an extension to the current consultation period (Appendix B of the report refers). Appendix A of the report was about engaging with members of the public.
The Chairman shared with members 2 emails that had been received from Cllr Gill Taylor and Cllr Ryan Hope regarding the wishes of Weymouth Town Council to reduce the time that dogs are banned from certain areas of the beach in order to support the economy of the town.
The Environmental Health Manager explained that the existing Order already provided for part of the beach to be used as an exercise area and therefore dog walkers could use part of Weymouth Beach now and throughout the summer. Any changes made now would need to go through another 12 week consultation period, which would mean being behind with this consultation. He recognised and understood the wishes of Weymouth and suggested they engaged with this consultation which was expected to cover all the points that had been raised.
In response to a question about the signposting of dog walking areas, members were advised that the Beach team at Weymouth displayed notices which clearly signposted dog walkers to the appropriate places.
One member highlighted the importance of these Orders being kept and adhered to in respect of bacteria, infections and infestations.
Following a concern from the Vice-Chairman about the reluctance to push forward what was being put forward by Weymouth Town council, the Environmental Health Manager explained that it could be progressed but the implications were that this would not start until the New Year and would result in having 2 consultations running at the same time and the chances of getting it in place by next summer would be unlikely. The Cabinet Member noted that this would involve a lot of additional time and effort along with confusion and officers had not as yet identified the benefits. Government guidance in respect of consultations was highlighted. There was an opportunity within the consultation in the comments box to bring Weymouth in.
In response to a query about question 4 in the proposed consultation, ‘dogs on leads on roads and pavements within 30 mph zones’, officers advised this was in line with Highways legislation.
Following a question about beaches in the eastern end of the county as they now came under the authority of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP), officers advised BCP would have to make their own decisions on how they wished to address their expiry dates for their Orders.
Officers advised that the consultation did not include school playing fields as the Government viewed education areas as different so therefore was outside of this control
In respect of question 20, the Chairman sought agreement from members to consider adding a time limit for dogs to be allowed on beaches, say 6am -8am. The Corporate Director for Place Services advised caution as beach cleansing regimes took place in the early hours and this could result in a heightened risk of faeces being left behind. It was also noted this could affect the blue flag status of beaches. Following discussion, Members did not agree to adding a time limit in this regard.
The Chairman felt as there was such a huge difference in public opinion in different areas the Council was unlikely to achieve one Order covering all beaches
Following a discussion about the number of enforcement officers and their hours of duty, the Corporate Director advised she would be looking at capacity across all Place services. Dog wardens were from predecessor councils and worked outside of normal working hours, and would need to be brought together with other enforcement officers. It would be important to pull teams together as part of the transformation work and this could involve looking at terms and conditions. As well as dog wardens and enforcement officers there were a lot of other staff that were engaged in enforcement work. Members agreed there was a real problem with dog fouling in all areas, not just on the beaches but in town areas also, and felt that the only way to change these habits would be to have a campaign and carry out more enforcement.
The Vice-Chairman felt there was a real opportunity here to encourage dog walkers to carry on using beaches, where permitted, in respect of the health and wellbeing agenda.
Members felt that the proposed consultation was thorough and provided the information that was required and therefore unanimously agreed the proposals.
1.That Cabinet be asked to consider the consultation proposals and approve the content of the consultation as set out in Appendix A for the Director’s report.
2. That Cabinet be asked to approve the extension of the current Dog-related PSPO’s in the former East Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland council areas until 31 December 2020.
Reasons for Recommendations
1. One Dog-related PSPO for the council area will help ensure consistency, fairness and clarity for residents and visitors to Dorset and will assist the efficient use of enforcement resources.
2. While it is a requirement to consult with stakeholders prior to introducing a PSPO, it is appropriate to define the parameters of the consultation in order to avoid generating unworkable proposals or raising unreasonable expectations.
3. A number of Dog-related PSPOs currently in place from predecessor councils will expire during the period of making the new Order. Should those expiry dates not be extended, it will not be possible to enforce the relevant requirements for public safety and animal welfare.