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Dog play park and sports pitch ban cannot be enforced

NEW powers banning dogs from play parks and sports pitches across one area of Gwent can’t be enforced nearly three weeks after being brought in. 

The public spaces protection orders have meant from June 1 there are 180 play parks and sports pitches that are off limits to dogs and a further 20 areas in Monmouthshire where they must be kept on a lead. 

But it has been confirmed the county council, which made the orders, hasn’t yet put up all the necessary signs to let dog owners know if there are any restrictions in place. 

Huw Owen, the council’s principle environmental health officer, confirmed signs clearly stating there is an order are required for them to be enforced. 

He told members of the council’s performance scrutiny committee: “There are 200 exclusion and lead only areas and each has to be sign posted and that is being rolled out in the next few months.” 

He was answering a question from Labour councillor for Rogiet, Peter Strong, who wanted assurance there would be no prosecutions until signs have been put up. 

He said: “The public spaces protection order and dog exclusion zones came into force on June 1 but to my knowledge the signs are not in place.” 

The councillor also said people aren’t clear of the boundaries of the areas from maps published by the council. 

As well as restrictions on dogs the orders, which the council began considering and consulting on in 2020, require people walking a dog to carry a bag to collect its poo and they must pick up their dog’s mess wherever it fouls in a public place. Previously dog walkers only had to pick up their dog’s poo in defined areas. 

Mr Owen said: “Enforcement starts with raising awareness we’ve got to be the first part, and that nudge effect of changing behaviour. 

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“The early months, summer months, it’s going to be about signposting areas of high footfall, our town centre locations etcetera, to make people aware of a requirement to pick up their dog’s mess, if it fouls a public space, to carry dog bags.” 

He also said the council’s eight environmental health officers are authorised to issue fines for failures to comply with the orders and a parking review would look at extending that to the council’s traffic wardens. 

Mr Owen said enforcement would be intelligence lead and he said the authority has a good relationship with town and community councils through the give dog fouling the red card campaign is has run for a number of years.