NEW by-laws requiring dog walkers to pick up their pooch’s poo in all public spaces could come into force this May.
Monmouthshire County Council has estimated some 330 new signs setting out what is required of dog owners – and marking areas which the animals are banned from – will cost around £37,000.
The council is proposing five new requirements on dog owners as part of a Public Spaces Protection Order it first looked at four years ago this March. It will also designate 180 areas where dogs are banned and around 20 where they must be kept on a lead.
Along with the duty to pick up after their dog if it fouls on any public land in the county, anyone walking a dog will also have to carry a bag so they can dispose of its poo. At present dog walkers are only required to pick up its faeces in specific locations.
Huw Owen, the council’s principal environmental health officer, told members of the council’s place scrutiny committee which was considering the plans: “The main thrust of the order is it will require any dog walker to pick up their dog’s mess if it it fouls in a public space in the county.
“Linked in with that is if you haven’t got a dog bag you are not really able to do that (dispose of the poo).”
Plans for the order were first drawn up in March 2020, and the council held a public consultation on them from July to October 2021, receiving some 1,300 responses.
Three further reports were considered by the council’s scrutiny committees and an order with five points, was agreed last year, which was then subject to public consultation in October and November.
Mr Owen said more than 500 questionnaires had been completed in response, with 62 per cent of those being from dog owners.
The five provisions in the order are to pick up a dog’s poo, carry a bag to dispose of it, put their dog on a lead if directed by an “authorised officer” in specified areas, that dogs be banned from specified areas including sports pitches, school grounds and play areas, and that in other specified areas dogs have to be kept on leads.
Each proposal was backed by a majority of respondents, said Mr Owen.
As well as environmental health officers, who already have powers to issue fines for dog fouling, waste and street cleaning officers as well as enforcement officers, who deal with parking offences, could issue on the spot fines.
But Mr Owen said enforcement would be “intelligence led”, acting on complaints including from town and community councils, rather than proactive patrolling.
Abergavenny Park ward councillor Tudor Thomas warned there will be resistance.
The Labour member said: “Certainly in my ward, and in Bailey Park, this order is going to be controversial.
“When I’ve been out in my ward, and with the town council, some people have almost been at the point of being abusive. One man said I want to take my child and dog with me and run the dogs on Bailey Park and no-one is going to stop me.”
He said when a similar order was introduced to address anti-social driving at the Fairfield car park police would send a patrol car to the area to reinforce it.
Caldicot Cross councillor Jackie Strong said she was concerned the orders may be too inflexible, such as where a footpath crosses the sports ground, near her home, which will be a dog exclusion zone.
She said: “Should we prevent people walking their dog to and from school? We’ll not be able to take the dog to watch the cricket any more.”
The Labour councillor added: “It’s a really good idea, and I welcome most of it, I just think it needs a bit of tweaking.”
Mr Owen said the exclusion zones wouldn’t prevent people from walking their dogs on public rights of way, even where they cut through restricted areas, and highlighted Chippenham Fields, in Monmouth, where there are a number of paths as well as sports pitches, as an example.
He said it’s possible the order, which will have to be approved by the cabinet, could be in force by May when ground works teams may be able to assit in putting up the new signs required. The council anticipates being able to claim around £7,000 of the £37,000 bill for signs from landlords including housing associations and town and community councils.
Committee chair, Portskewett Conservative councillor Lisa Dymock, said councillors had highlighted the need for an awareness campaign as well as raising concerns around enforcement and any exceptions required.