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More control orders on the horizon

Elmbridge District Council are asking dog owners to contact them over the recently proposed Dog Control orders they are planning to impose.

Looking at the maps on the Elmbridge web site which shows the areas they intend to place the dog control orders it appears that there will be few remaining areas left available to dog walkers. Closer inspection shows that the council are considering applying in most areas orders covering dog fouling, not putting a dog on a lead if asked to do so by an official and taking more than a specified number on to the land although the last one does not appear to have a maximum number mentioned.

While all of these restrictions appear to be common sense , the sheer number of dog control orders which the council would like to apply covers all the land the public have access to, thus affecting all dog owners.

Unfortunately the council feels they need to consider imposing dog control orders as they have had problems with dog owners, in particular not cleaning up after their dogs. A council employee told Our Dogs that they were appalled that some dog owners are picking up the faeces and leaving the used bag and contents hanging off car bumpers. Once it was explained that many dog owners pick up after their dog and leave the used bags on their own car bumpers to remind them to take the offending bag and contents home with them, they were surprised as they had assumed dog owners were literally leaving the used bags on any car bumper they happened to walk past!

Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act councils can apply the following restrictions:

a) Fouling of land by dogs or failing to remove dog faeces;
b) Not keeping a dog on a lead;
c) Not putting, and keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer;
d) Permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded;
e) Taking more than a specified number of dogs onto land and any one not complying with these orders are deemed to be committing an offence. The Dog Control Orders in Elmbridge would apply to any land open to the public. Some of the land on which dog control orders are being proposed comes under Natural England regulations – they are covered by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW).

A spokesperson for KC Dog told us that the Kennel Club has already been raising awareness of the council’s intentions and representatives have been giving interviews with local radio and newspapers.

Whilst CNEA gives local authorities the power to introduce dog control orders, Defra’s guidance on the Act states that: “It is important for any authority considering a dog control order to be able to show that this is a necessary and proportionate response to problems caused by the activities of dogs and those in charge of them and; any authority needs to balance the interest of those in charge of dogs against the interests of those affected by the activities of dogs and that a failure to give consideration to these factors could make any subsequent dog control order vulnerable in the Courts.”

This means if the council cannot point to specific problems to answer questions raised by constituents to justify each Order, this could be challenged in Court. Minister Ben Bradshaw MP clarified: “While there is nothing to compel a local authority to act on representations made during the consultation process, such an authority may be open to a legal challenge if they introduced an Order in spite of local feeling on the issue”.

Dog owners have until the 30th November to contact the council about the proposed dog control orders and if they have particular concerns they should also contact KC Dog, who bring their concerns to the attention of the council. The council website has an online form for dog owners and others to fill The areas listed in green on the web site will bring up a map of the area which the proposed restrictions are to be applied.

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