To consider the report of the Director (NE) (reference 17/244) attached.
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (NE) (Reference 17/244) proposing the introduction of a Dog Control Public Space Protection Order for the Borough of Scarborough. Mr Adrian Perry of the Friends of South Cliff Gardens addressed the meeting with the following question:
‘First, I must clearly state that everyone welcomes responsible dog owners but a dog off the lead in a public garden encourages dog mess which in South Cliff Garden is already at unacceptable levels. Fortunately, we have a lady volunteer who tries to manage the situation with her “Poo Litterpicks”. The current dog orders have all of South Cliff southern gardens as dogs on leads. We think it is wrong that South Cliff Gardens are being downgraded to have only three small isolated areas within the gardens where dogs must be on a lead. Consequently, we are asking for your support in rejecting this proposal which will adversely affect our gardens. When this matter was previously discussed in Cabinet the Officer stated that the reason for the reduction in protection at South Cliff was because there are too many entrances to the Gardens which makes it difficult to enforce the dogs on lead order. The number of entrances to the whole garden are 13. The areas designated in the proposal have 17 entrances which I would suggest makes enforcement a real nightmare. I have read through the documents and see a great deal of support for our views and find it difficult to understand why the responses have not been acted upon. I would suggest that the consultation is flawed in that I cannot understand why people in Whitby or Filey are asked to comment on Scarborough Parks and vice-versa. Very few people would have any detailed knowledge about other parts of the Borough. However, the questions on fines are universal and prompted a good deal of comment. Last month the Friends were delighted to see that the Cabinet approved Saving South Cliff Gardens - award of HLF grant. Members of our group have been involved with this project from its outset and only last week visited Pannett Park to see how their HLF project has prospered. It clearly has been a very successful exercise in regenerating a neglected park. We have all the same issues and we are determined to have a similar result but we need your assistance. The Friends of South Cliff Gardens cannot support the proposed changes and hope that the current orders will be maintained.
Finally, do you really think that these proposals for South Cliff Gardens will reduce the dog fouling problems when dogs are not controlled?’
Before giving his reply, Councillor Chatt also reported the following comments by ward Councillor Tom Fox on the same issue:
‘I am commenting in respect of the South Cliff Gardens, the recognition given in early consultation to the complexities of enforcement of dogs on/off their leads in certain areas of the Gardens. That stated so early in proceedings it is now a surprise to read the lax approach proposed. With the myriad of access points to the Gardens and how the paths interweave it would be an impossibility for those tasked with enforcing any ‘order’. The twists and turns of the paths will see dogs off their leads often beyond the reach of their walkers with consequences of straying into areas where leads are required and dogs fouling out of their sight and will walkers know they have crossed the lead on/off boundaries?
To me the sensible approach is not to complicate the order. These are public gardens with complex paths and not wide open grassed areas. Dogs need to be on their leads in this area and I ask that you consider my view at the meeting.’
‘South Cliff Gardens were previously covered by the dogs on lead requirement. The area covered ran from the Spa Lift to the former Holbeck Hall site. As the area has changed character over the past ten years, officers feel it would be appropriate to mirror the area to the north of the Spa Lift which have no restrictions and so remove much of the area from dogs on lead requirements. We propose to retain the restriction though for: Rose Gardens, the Italian Gardens, and the Clock Tower putting green and formal beds. The entire area would still be covered by dog fouling legislation and the Dog Warden team will continue to patrol the area to identify fouling offences. The consultation was undertaken through the corporate framework and gives residents, visitors and Parish/Town Councils the opportunity to shape the final PSPO. It would not be appropriate to limit responses or ability to feed in to the process based on where one lived. Scarborough Borough Council takes dog fouling seriously and will continue to do so. Since April we have commenced formal action against 63 individuals for dog related offences and just under half of these are for fouling offences. We regularly take action for dog fouling offences against owners while the dog is exercised on a lead, so retaining the lead requirement would not prevent fouling offences being committed.
We have suggested this PSPO runs for the maximum three years but Cabinet could ask for an interim report to review if the proposals are working which could be a compromise?’
Mr Perry then commented on the reply, stating that although it appeared to be reasonable, the standpoint of the dog owner needed to be taken into account. As currently proposed, the new PSPO for the South Cliff Gardens was difficult for dog owners to understand and therefore to abide by. Far better that the dogs on lead restriction be retained for all the area backed up by clear signage.
Members welcomed the report, recognising the difficult balance to be struck between the needs of dog walkers and other residents, but sympathised with the views of Mr Perry and ward Councillor Fox. Councillor Cockerill commented that the simpler the proposed order, the easier to enforce, noting that much work would be taking place in the area of South Cliff Gardens in the coming months following the Council’s recent decision to approve the cliff stabilisation project, and the related Heritage Lottery Fund project. He therefore proposed that in accordance with Mr Perry’s and Councillor Fox’s wishes, the PSPO replicate the dog on lead restrictions of the current order for South Cliff Gardens subject to further review after the completion of these projects. Councillor Cockerill also queried the use of ‘reasonable excuse’ in the policy as a means for dog owners to avoid committing an offence. The Operations, Transport and Countryside Manager, Mr Thompson commented that the wording in the policy was based on good practice in other authorities; however, he would have to take legal advice before providing clarification on this matter. Councillor Turner welcomed in particular the proposals in respect of Tate Hill Beach that dog walkers be permitted to let their dogs off the lead in winter time.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet recommend that the Council:
1. approve the making of the Scarborough Borough Council Dog Control Public Spaces Protection Order (‘the Order’) as set out at Appendix A (subject to the amendment to the Order proposed for South Cliff Gardens to the effect that the current dog on leads restriction in the entire South Cliff Gardens be replicated in the new order and subject to clarification on the matter of ‘reasonable excuse’);
2. approve the use of fixed penalty notices for offences under the Order;
3. approve that the fixed penalty for offences under the Order be;
(a)£100 for dog fouling offences; and
(b)£75 for all other offences
4. delegate authority to the Directors to;
a) issue fixed penalty notices for offences under the Order;
b) authorise in writing any Officer of the Council to issue fixed penalty notices for offences under the Order;
c) give directions under Part 7 of the Order; and
d) authorise in writing any Officer of the Council to give directions under Part 7 of the Order.
5. agree that upon the coming into force of the Order the existing Dog Control Orders are discharged.
To provide up to date control measures addressing dog related anti-social behaviour, dog ownership and the responsible exercise of dogs within the Borough.