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Agenda Item No 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment): 16 April 2013

 

Report of the Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

Exclusion of Dogs in Play Areas

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To review a request received from Councillor R. Bertin to consider proposals to prohibit dogs from entering children's play areas within parks and open spaces.

Recommendation

1.             That Members support the submission of a detailed report to Cabinet on the possible introduction of Dog Control Orders.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             To enable Cabinet to consider the introduction of further mechanisms to control anti-social activities by dog owners in Parks and Open Spaces and to further consider improving enforcement methods.

Background

2.             Councillor R. Bertin has requested that consideration be given to prohibiting dogs from entering Children's play areas across the Vale.  Full details of this request are shown within the agenda.

3.             In 2001 the Vale of Glamorgan Bye-Laws for "Dog Ban, The Removal of Faeces and Dogs on Leads for Public Walks, Pleasure Grounds and Open Spaces" were sealed and confirmed by the National Assembly for Wales.

4.             This enabled the Council to ban dogs from a number of sites and these are listed at Appendix A.

5.             To date, enforcement of the Dog Ban Bye-Law has only been advisory with no fines issued or prosecutions progressed.

6.             Recently ‘Dog Control Orders’ have replaced the previous system of byelaws for the control of dogs, and also the penalties, fines etc under the "Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996", as this Act was repealed by the "Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005".  However, the byelaws previously made by this Council remain in force indefinitely, and can continue to be enforced as normal.

7.             In Wales, the "Dog Control Orders (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Wales) Regulations 2007" implemented the relevant sections of the "Clean Neighbourhoods" and "Environment Act 2005" relating to dog fouling. Under the current legislation, it is now possible for all local authorities to make a ‘Dog Control Order’ to provide controls on the handling and behaviour of dogs on areas of land within their authority.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             Over recent years the Council has acquired a number of new parks and open spaces. These new areas are not covered by the existing byelaws and therefore, some consideration needs to be given to regulating various activities on these sites, including dog control.

9.             There are a number of options open to the Council.  One option is that the Council could consider introducing Dog Control Orders just in respect of dog exclusion in relation to play areas within parks and open spaces throughout the county. This means that there would be the existing Dog Byelaws and a series of Dog Control Orders operating side by side.

10.        An alternative option would be to consider revoking the existing Dog Byelaws and introducing new Dog Control Orders which can cover failing to remove dog faeces; not keeping a dog on a lead; not putting, and keeping, a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer; permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded during certain times or permanently; and taking more than the specified number of dogs onto land.

11.        Once introduced, the Council may seek to prosecute dog control offences, and fine of up to level three on the standard scale (currently £1000) may be given upon conviction. Alternatively fixed penalty notices may be given to suspected offenders, giving them the opportunity to discharge liability for the offence.

12.        Councillor Bertin advised the public of his intentions in respect to this request via the local press and a number of responses have been received by residents and these are attached at Appendix B.

13.        It is suggested that officers now consider this matter in greater detail and provide a report to Cabinet in the near future advising of the various options available.  The views of this Committee will assist in this process.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.        The total cost of implementing the Dog Control Orders will be calculated and detailed within the report to Cabinet.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

15.        Cleaner and safer play areas may result from increased regulation, and public health risks, for children in particular, could be reduced

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16.        As contained in this report.

17.        There are no Human Rights implications.

Crime and Disorder Implications

18.        The introduction of Dog Control Orders will have a positive impact on Crime and Disorder issues.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

19.        Any signage in connection with Dog Control Orders will be bi-lingual.

Corporate/Service Objectives

20.        The Corporate Priority and service aim is “To achieve a quality of the environment through the promotion and use of sustainable practices and by making the best use of current and future resources”.

21.        The Service Objective is “To provide, manage and maintain Parks, open spaces and play areas”.

22.        The provision of an agreement will improve the working with the Community, Stakeholders and the Voluntary Sector.

Policy Framework and Budget

23.        The details of this report are within the Council's Policy Framework and Budget.  Any introduction of Dog Control Orders will be a matter for the Council's Executive.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.        As this is a Vale wide matter, no individual ward Members have been consulted.  Any application for dog control orders would be subject to full public consultation.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Phil Beaman - Parks and Grounds Maintenance - Tel: 01446 709 543

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Legal Services

Operational Manager - Countryside and Economic Projects

Accountant - Visible and Building Services

Group Estates Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing