DOG owners have reacted in their hundreds to proposals which could see them restricted on where they can walk their beloved pets.
Around 500 residents have so far contacted Blackpool Council after town hall chiefs revealed proposals for a new set of byelaws to control dogs in the resort.
The move could see tougher fines for allowing dogs to foul, areas where dogs must be kept on a lead and areas where the pets would be banned altogether.
Owners are being reassured their views will be taken into account before any new rules are set in stone.
Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for streets, said: “People often have strong views regarding dogs, either as an owner from a point of view of the right to exercise dogs in public places, or as a non dog owner concerned about nuisance and mess caused by irresponsible owners.
“We want residents to help us decide what restrictions should be in place, where those restrictions should be and how we should deal with the minority who break the rules.”
The council is responding to complaints about dog fouling.
The Gazette reported in August that 392 complaints about dog fouling were lodged with Blackpool Council in the first four months of 2012.
Among proposed exclusion zones are children’s playgrounds, skate parks, tennis courts, bowling greens and wetlands including Stanley Park lake.
Existing rules banning dogs from the beach between North and South Piers between May 1 and September 30 would continue.
Dogs would have to be on a lead when they are being walked near public roads, car parks, sports grounds, allotments, cemeteries and nature reserves, as well as on the Promenade.
The restrictions could also apply when dogs are being walked in a number of public open spaces such as Cavendish Road recreation ground and the area around Kincraig Park in Bispham, as well as George Bancroft Park and Highfield Park in Blackpool.
Parts of Stanley Park could be included with dogs banned from the area around the lake, and forced to be on a lead in the Rose Garden, the Heather Garden, the Italian Garden and the bowling greens.
Some of the restrictions already exist in byelaws stretching back for decades, but town hall chiefs want to adopt a new set of orders under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
Fines for contravening the rules and allowing a dog to foul could increase from £50 to £80.
The consultation runs until the end of October.
Dog owner and Marton community representative Mary Naylor said: “Most people respect a park is used by everyone and so already keep their dogs on a lead. I would object if somewhere like Lawson’s Field was included because that is common land.”
Elaine Smith, chairman of the Friends of Stanley Park, said: “We don’t want to deter dog owners from coming into the park.”
Canine governing body the Kennel Club has warned any measures must be fair. Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Blackpool Council has been proactive in trying to deal with dog fouling.
“It is important to make sure further measures taken to deal with such issues are fair and proportionate.”
Graham Clench, 57, of Forest Gate, Blackpool, who walks his dog Chewy in Stanley Park, said: “You obviously need areas for children to play that are free from dog muck but I don’t want them to impinge on us too much.”
Margaret Rennie, 65, of Ravens Close, Normoss, said: “Where are we going to go with them? They’ve got to have exercise somewhere and so have we.”
Joyce Platt, from Hambleton, was walking her dogs in Stanley Park when The Gazette spoke to her.
She said: “I’m in agreement with upping the fines for fouling, but you shouldn’t ban them from parks. Dogs love the parks and it’s not the dog’s fault in any case, it’s the bad owners they should ban.”
People can have their say about the proposals by writing to DCOs, The Annexe, 125 Albert Road, Blackpool, FY1 1NF; emailing email@example.com or calling (01253) 478634.
Wyre Council is also currently consulting on the new dog control orders.