Are Blackpool dog orders money-making idea? Will they affect disabled? Your questions answered
The planned changes to the restrictions placed on dog owners have sparked heated debate '“ and in some cases confusion over what exactly is being put forward.
So what exactly are the rules at the moment and what changes are on the table?
Are there planned changes to how dog fouling is dealt with?
Yes and no. It has always been an offence to allow your dog to foul and not clear up afterwards and hopefully no-one disagrees that this should continue.
It is one of the issues that is raised most often with councillors and officers.
Authorised officers can issue a fixed penalty notice to the owner that doesn’t pick up after their dog has fouled and it is proposed this continues.
However, to go one step further in tackling the issue it is also proposed to make it an offence to fail to produce a bag or other means for picking up after your dog when asked by an officer.
Is this just a money-making idea?
No, the fines are not in place as a money-making scheme or to ‘catch out’ responsible owners.
We would be using this power to target irresponsible dog owners where we have intelligence that they are regularly walking their dog and not cleaning up after them.
Officers will also be reasonable when considering any explanation offered as to why a person is not carrying bags. A warning would be given on the first occasion.
The new proposals will ban dogs from most of Blackpool.
No they won’t. The existing dog exclusion zones are primarily children’s play areas, sporting arenas, lakes and wetlands (the actual water).
These areas are by their nature not suitable for exercising dogs. In addition there is a seasonal exclusion from May 1 to September 30 on the beach from North Pier to the Mirrorball.
This means that for seven months of the year dogs can go on four of Blackpool’s seven miles of beach, the rest of year they can use it all.
This consultation has highlighted that many people didn’t know of the existing exclusion areas that are in place.
The only proposed addition to this list is marked out sports pitches. This has been suggested to reduce the incidences of sports pitch damage and fouling.
We want to hear from the people that use the pitches to find out if it an issue for them. We also want to hear from dog walkers to find out if this addition to the exclusion list would impact on their ability to exercise their dog.
Why should a council officer tell us to put our dog on a lead?
This power is already in place but it is rarely used and we wouldn’t see that changing. We just want to make sure that officers can protect themselves or any other member of the public while conducting their duties and or activities.
An example of this would be a Blackpool Council groundsman working with machinery where dogs have a potential to increase the risk of injury to person or dog.
We would only expect to use this power when a dog is dangerously out of control.
What is proposed for dogs on leads?
Since 2013 dogs have been required to be exercised on a lead in the following areas:
Bowling green peripheries
The promenades between North and South Piers
Stanley Park (excluding south fields)
All tram tracks and adjacent footways
Princess Parade crazy golf
Gynn Flagstaff gardens
Louis Horrocks Recreational Ground
Warbeck Recreational Ground
Marton Mere local nature reserve
Fylde Memorial Arboretum and Community Woodland
Bispham Library gardens
Central Library gardens
George Bancroft Park
Raikes Parade open space
South Shore crescent (north and south) open space
Moor Park sports facilities
Common Edge Road playing field
Kingscote Park playing field
We know that some of these areas are very large and the existing wording has led to confusion.
We appreciate that greater clarity over areas such as Marton Mere, Herons Reach, Stanley Park and tram track adjacent footpaths is needed.
Bridleways have also been “dog on lead areas” through local by-laws and are being reviewed to see where these can be de-restricted.
The only new areas being reviewed for dog on lead orders are:
Promenade middle walk ( Access Road/Highway)
Cabin – Little Bispham walkways ( to De restrict the whole area, allowing dogs off lead)
Squires Gate tram circle (adjacent to the tram tracks)
South Promenade grassed area (adjacent to the tram tracks)
Why are you proposing to limit the number of dogs being off lead at any one time and a limit to the amount of dogs being walked?
This is a topic where there is a conflict between dog walkers who are concerned that professional dog walkers can’t control all the dogs they are exercising at once.
We know this proposal has caused upset among professional dog walkers who exercise a large number of dogs in and around Blackpool and their views will all be taken on board as part of the consultation process.
This will impact on residents with disabilities
The proposals do not affect people with disabilities who use guide or assistance dogs.
More broadly, we will also ensure that any new restrictions are not implemented in any way that could inadvertently discriminate against people with disabilities.
Are you restricting the age of a child who can exercise a dog?
No. The consultation is to gauge public opinion on whether controls should be in place to meet the responsibility of responsible dog ownership.
Who will be enforcing any new rules?
Blackpool Council already has authorised officers across a wide range of front line services who currently challenge breaches of the existing order. They will be responsible for education and enforcement of any new order.
What happens next?
We would expect the consultation findings to offer a wide range of opinions that will help to shape a final draft Public Space Protection Order.
We will also be seeking the views of the Dogs Trust, a localvet and solicitor specialising in canine issues.
In addition, an open and honest dialogue has been established with Blackpool Orders for Dog Control Action Group.
The consultation can be viewed at www.blackpool.gov.uk and closes on Tuesday.