Listen Live

U-turn on dog walking restrictions

People in Teignbridge can now walk 6 at a time

It would have been one of eight new controls that will come into force in Teignbridge from April 1, 2019, with £100 on-the-spot fines to be issued to offenders.

Seven of the controls in the public space protection order had been agreed – six at the Teignbridge District Council executive meeting in October and bringing the summer dog beach ban forward to April 1 was agreed at December’s executive meeting following a call-in of the initial decision.

But Teignbridge councillors at Monday’s full council meeting agreed that they were barking up the wrong tree with the proposed restriction of four dogs to be walked at once. Instead, councillors voted for the restriction to be six.

When introduced from  April 1, 2019, the PSPO will mean:
• You must pick up after your dog in public places
• Dogs aren’t allowed in areas signed as dog exclusion areas (for example, children’s play parks)
• Dogs aren’t allowed on beaches at Dawlish Warren, Dawlish Town, Dawlish Coryton Cove, Teignmouth Town and Shaldon from April 1 to September 30
• Dogs must be kept on a lead in certain areas
• Dogs must be kept on leads when walking next to a road, on footpaths next to the road or on cyclepaths.
• Where a dog is being a nuisance or annoying to people or other animals, people must put their dog on a lead if asked to do so by a council officer or police officer.
• One person can only walk a maximum of six dogs at a time.
• You must carry sufficient dog poo bags

Anyone breaching any of the eight controls are liable for £100 on-the-spot fines.

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst, who had led the call-in of the executive’s decision to limit the number of dogs, said that the council by restricting the number to four dogs was saying that dog walking businesses in the area were not important to them. He said: “Dog walkers will have to increase rates by a third and many clients will no longer be able to walk their dogs professionally.

“There are no complaints about professional dog walkers. Do we allow them to have the ability to walk six dogs at a time and monitor it over the year, or do we follow the executive who on a whim plumped for four. We should set the limit at six, the same as East Devon District Council do, and ask scrutiny to monitor it overt the year.”

Cllr John Nutley added that he was speaking on behalf of all those who walks dogs professionally, saying that the PSPO would destroy their livelihoods by only allowing four dogs to be walked at once. He said: “We have 74 businesses who either walk or care for dogs – do we want to put them out of business? It is not just them who will suffer but those who are elderly and cannot walk their dogs or those who are working all day, who would either have to find their dog another home or have them shut in home all day and that is unfair.”

Cllr Sally Morgan said that the four dog ruling would put people out of business as they would no longer be able to make a living out of it, Cllr Alan Connett said that you need to be able to walk six dogs at once to make a business viable, while Cllr Mike Haines said that it would be better for the restriction to be six at the moment and then could be dropped to four the following year, if the evidence presented to the review group that will look at the success of the PSPO warranted it.

And councillors asked questioned the fact that there was nothing in the budget for more dog wardens, as at present, there are only three enforcement wardens to cover the district of Teignbridge, which includes Newton Abbot and stretches from Exminster near Exeter in the north to Buckfastleigh and Ashburton in the west, and south to Dawlish and Teignmouth.

Cllr Alison Eden said: “We heard earlier there is no money for more dog wardens. It is extraordinary that we are not putting the money where we need it, but are punishing entrepreneurs pointlessly,” while Cllr Mike Hocking added: “We have not got enough dog wardens and we need people out there who will make the regulations stand up.”

The portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, Cllr Sylvia Russell, told councillors that the recommendation of four dogs came about after public consultation in 2017. More than 2,000 responses were received, where 50 per cent through that the limit should be three dogs and once, 23 per cent said it should be four, while only two per cent said that they thought six dogs could be controlled at once.

Cllr Humphrey Clemens added: “There are people who are competent to walk six dogs at once. But does going with that mean that if I pass an advanced driving test, I can drive at 90mph on the motorway as I am more qualified to do so? The number of four was chosen based on the number from the public consultation.”

But councillors voted by 19 votes to three, with 19 abstentions all from the ruling Conservatives, to amend the PSPO so that the restriction on the number of dogs to be walked at once was six.

The PSPO came after Teignbridge made a commitment to review its policy on dog fouling and restricted access across the district’s open spaces and beaches through its 10-year Council Strategy, a long-term plan of action aimed at making Teignbridge and healthy and more desirable place where people want to live, work and visit.

The benefit of a PSPO to residents of Teignbridge is that officers will be able to issue fixed penalty notices to those caught ignoring the rules on dog fouling and controls, a council spokesman said after the meeting. They added: “This is a quick resolution however persistent offenders can still be prosecuted. The PSPO sets one standard across the district rather than the inconsistent approach currently in place.”

Cllr Jeremy Christophers, leader of the council, added: “We want a cleaner and safer district without dog attacks or dog fouling. If you let your dog foul, you will be fined £100, and that is what the people want to see.”

More from Local News

Listen Live
On Air Now Dean Brame Playing You'll Never Know Hi Gloss