Objections

Nobody approves of people who fail to control their dogs or pick up after them - let's take that as a given and move on. Responsible dog owners do not believe that the proposed PSPOs will make the slightest difference to the behaviour of these unreasonable people.

This page summarises dog owner objections to the PSPOs proposed by Fylde Council. Please also check out our Consultation page to see exactly how the proposals will affect dog walking areas near you.

Inappropriate Prioritisation

Is this really what you want your money spent on?

Fylde Council's Document Appointments to Member Working Group - Public Space Protection Orders - that you can access HERE - states in the table under Corporate Priorities that the PSPOs meet the "Value of Money" objective. The Fylde Orders for Dog Controls Action Group disagrees and believes this is a very wasteful and unnecessary exercise that has alientated large members of the communitity and gives no value for money whatsoever.

At a time of increasing financial uncertainty and increasing constraints, and at a time when Fylde Council is cutting back harshly on libraries and services to the disabled and elderly, the Council is embarking on proposals that will cost, even by it's own estimates, £12,000 to publicise let alone implement.

Nothing is disclosed about the cost of planning, staff training, dealing with the consultation exercise, or potential Council costs of defending any High Court challenges to the legality of PSPOs. The real cost will be much higher and fall to the hard-pressed Council Tax payer - probably in the form of further reductions in services in other areas.

Do you really want your money spent like this?

Lack of Objectivity

Proposed new restrictions are not justified by objective data

The Council PSPO proposals contain no objective data whatsoever to justify the proposed extended restrictions. Don't take our word for it - check yourselves by reviewing the proposal (which you can download from HERE). It contains just anecdotal information and statements that "a number of complaints have been made". Nothing specific for any of the sites affected by the proposals has been produced by the Council to suggest that there is a particular problem at any of them.

We have raised Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to try to obtain objective information. More details can be found on our FOI page HERE. Some FOIs have been refused based on the cost of providing information. It is also of concern that we have been unable to obtain data on either how many complaints were from "serial complainants" or how many complaints have been raised by Councillors, their family members and business associates. This gives rise for concern with respect to the "Seven Principles of Public Life in Regulation" documented in the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (which you can access from HERE).

Dog Fouling Complaints and issue of FPNs is reducing

The FOI response about incidences of dog fouling complaints and the number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued by Council Officers has been analysed and shows that the incidence of complaints in the area has actually reduced since a peak in 2012/13. The data also shows that the number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued by the Council, pitifully low since they were introduced, has fallen to the pathetic number of THREE in the year 2015/16.

The reduced figures are despite leaflets distributed by Council employees inviting people to lodge complaints.

Dog Fouling Complaints
Chart showing the yearly number of dog fouling complaints and fixed penalty notices issues based on data provided by Fylde Council under a FOI request.

Follow up requests for information has produced additional data which can be viewed in detail HERE.

This data has been graphed and the trends, which are either downward or stable, can be seen in the chart below:

Dog Complaint trends
Chart showing the yearly number of various categories of complaints about dogs based on data provided by Fylde Council under a FOI request.
Very few people have made complaints about dog fouling

The latest easily available figures (2011) gives the population of Fyld Council area as 75,800 and the number of complaints of dog fouling that year (2010/11) were 251. That represents 0.33% of the population made a complaint at worse - even fewer if there were "serial complainants" among them.

Dog Fouling Complaints and population
Chart showing the number of dog fouling complaints compared with Fylde Population based on data provided by Fylde Council. (You may need a magnifying glass to see the bar representing the number of complaints but it is there!)
Police Perspective

As far as we are aware, the Police Service has not been involved in the consultation process (see Lack of Consultation below). Perhaps for good reason as there is not a single reference to dogs in the Police and Crime Plan 2016-2021 issued by the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner - you can view the police plan HERE.

Walking Multiple Dogs

Why does Fylde Council want to punish people providing a valuable and necessary service or who have a lot of dogs?

Please see our FOI page. In response to a Freedom of Information requests regarding complaints about dog walkers and multiple dogs being walked, Fylde Council responded:

"there is no formal record of the receipt of any such complaints."

Owners with multiple dogs

People have multiple dogs for various reasons - coordinating and arranging rehoming of rescue dogs, dog breeders, dog trainers, and people who compete in a variety of dog activities such as Obedience, Agility , Breed Showing etc. Their dogs are generally well-trained, kept under control, have suitable temperaments and most importantly have to be safe around people.

So why are multiple dog owners being victimised? Critics say that multiple dog owners and professional dog walkers can not see where there dogs are to pick up after them - that is not the case - multiple dog owners are acutely aware of that responsibility and in most cases know their dogs' bodily functions timetable. If this were an issue there would be evidence of prosecutions of multiple dog owners and Professional dog walkers for not picking up after their dogs simply because they would be an easy target. The council has produced not a shred of evidence to support this stance. Furthermore putting an arbitrary limit on the number of dogs to be walked fails to take into account whether they are on or off lead, their shape, size, breed specifics, or disposition.

Dog wardens and the Police already have powers under the Dangerous Dogs Act and the Dogs Act to deal with any uncontrolled behaviour. Local Authorities can issue Dog control Orders on individuals should there be a problem - therefore there is no need to put introduce blanket restrictions on everyone.

Dog Walkers

The proposed PSPO targets dog walkers, who have public liability insurance, provide a very valuable service to the community - especially to people out at work, and elderly and disabled people who may struggle to give their dogs the exercise they need. The Council complains about the number of dog walkers but can point to just a single piece of hearsay about them, and gives no details as to whether the complaint was valid or not. No local dog walkers have being prosecuted or issued with Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for failing to keep dogs under control or failing to pick up after them. Professional dog walkers are very careful about checking out dogs for behaviour problems before taking them on and don't deserve to be treated as pariahs by the Council. They perform other important services in socialising dogs, looking out for stray dogs and helping to re-unite them with their owners (or calling the dog wardens), and often provide help to their elderly or disabled clients - on occasions calling for emergency assistance that might otherwise not have been given.

It is clear from the Council's report that it wants to limit the number of dogs that can be walked to four - whether by professional dog walkers or individuals. They stated this in their report, and have biased the survey questionnaire to try and get the result they want. See our Consultation page and look carefully at the wording of Question 28. The most likely result of this will be job losses and/or increased rates for dog walking services and dogs not walked sufficiently because their owners physically can't do it themselves or afford increased fees.

Animal Welfare

"Welcome to The Fylde .... Unless you have dogs" is not a good message.

The RSPCA in its position statement published 24 February 2015 - which can be accessed from our Links page HERE - makes two clear points:

1. Local Authorities should use PSPOs sparingly and in a manner that is proportionate to the problem, in accordance with DEFRA's guidance

2. Local authorities should be aware that under section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act, owners are required to ensure they meet their pets' welfare needs, this includes the freedom to express normal behaviour and regular and appropriate exercise. It is for this reason, that where dogs are excluded or restricted on open spaces, it is essential that local authorities ensure that other open spaces in close proximity remain accessible to dogs on and off leads to allow owners to fulfil their responsibilities.

In the case of many of the areas that will be impacted by the proposed PSPO, Fylde Council is not providing enough appropriate "open spaces in close proximity" - please see the notes about the specific proposals on our Consultation page.

The PSPO will severely limit where dogs can be exercised off-lead - particularly away from the coast. The net result will be more dogs forced to use a smaller space. This could cause behavioural and other problems.

It also means that locations such as Green Drive, St. Annes Green and many other local green spaces can expect a massive increase in use by local dog walkers - who will have little alternative if they are to exercise their dogs. The net result of the Council's proposals will be an impact on the welfare of dogs as fewer of them will be able to have the off-lead exercise that all experts recommend.

Please see the responses to Fylde Council by the Kennel Club and a local Veterinary Surgeon on our new Animal Welfare page HERE.

Economic Impact on the Fylde Area

We want thriving local businesses - not more empty chairs and charity shops

If implemented, the proposals will adversely affect local businesses who get significant income from local and visiting dog walkers who will go elsewhere. This will particularly affect cafes, teashops, pubs, vets and petshops but also a variety of other shops.

Many people bring their dogs to the area to exercise their dogs and use the cafés and shops in the area afterwards. They are less likely to do so with greater restrictions on where they can exercise their dogs. This kind of small business already finds it hard to make ends meet. Anything that is likely to stop people coming to the area will have an economic impact and some may have to close down. Many of them are already working close to the edge and really do not deserve to be pushed over it for the sake of this PSPO.

Discrimination

No discrimination in The Fylde - unless you are a dog walker, a dog owner, disabled, elderly or need an Assistance dog

Why is the Council discriminating against dog owners?

Why have the Council been distibuting leaflets inviting people to complain about dog-related problems whilst not doing anything similar about other anti-social activities such as littering, drinking in public areas, fly-tipping etc.?

Is the Council discriminating against elderly people or those with disabilities under the Equalities Act 2010 or the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001?

The elderly, disabled, people with small children who take their dogs out with their children in a pram or pushchair, and those without cars. Some people will struggle with the sand dunes and use mobility scooters to get around. Citizens falling within these categories that currently exercise their dogs off lead in areas such as Blackpool North Playing Fields and Hope Park will be discriminated against as they will not be able to access the remaining areas where off-lead exercise will be allowed if the PSPO proposals are put into place.

The proposals do not include exemptions for Assistance Dogs.

Lack of Consultation

Guidance was issued in October 2014 to Local Authorities by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) with respect to PSPOs in Dealing with Irresponsible Dog Ownership Practitioner's Manual which can be accessed from our links page HERE. The guidance includes recommendations to Councils that:

Where a PSPO will affect dog owners or walkers eg by restricting access to all or certain parts of a park, the local authority should consult with them. This can be done through engaging with working groups, as well as locally organised pet groups and national organisations, such as the Kennel Club who will have a network of contacts.

It goes on to say that Consultation may include but is not limited to Parish Councils, Local Dog Societies, Local Animal Welfare organisations, local vetinary practices, local professional dog walkers, local residents groups, The Kennel Club.

Fylde Council, by it's own admission in a response to a Freedom of Information request, had completely failed to consult the majority of those groups recommended by DEFRA whilst drawing up proposed PSPOs. In their own words, feedback was sought from Parish/Town Councils and other Council departments including the Parks and Coast and Countryside Department.

At the Council meeting on 15 November, members of the public were allowed a total of just 15 minutes to have their say.

The draft minutes on the Fylde Council website fails to record who spoke or what points they made.

For proposals affecting an estimated 25% of households in the Fylde Council area (based on estimates by the Kennel Club and the Pet Food Manufacturing Association), this is unreasonable to say the least and demonstrates contempt for dog-owning members of the community. It is the belief of many dog owners that there would have been NO further consultation had there not been a heavy public turnout at the Council meeting on 15 November and that the proposals would have been 'rubber-stamped'.

Wrong People Targeted

Punish the innocent and ignore the guilty

There is a small number of people who fail to pick up after their dogs or keep them under control. These people ignore the current Dog Control Orders and will ignore whatever PSPO is put in place.

The Council's answer to this is to put more restrictions on law-abiding dog owners, but it has published no plans to increase the resources to tackle offenders. The innocent will be punished and the guilty will continue to go scot-free. This is unreasonable and unjust. No wonder so many people are angry!

Other Existing Legal Powers

There is no shortage of existing dog controls ....

Fylde Council already has tools to deal with nuisance dog owners that are specific to the individual - not to the Community. There are several laws already in place that can deal with individuals whose dogs are not under proper control.

A search of the Acts of Parliament, Regulations and Statutory Instruments using the term 'Dogs' returns 123 results, of which a small selection are described below. As a matter of interest, a similar search for 'Tax avoidance' returned only 39 results. Even more suprisingly, a search for 'Member of Parliament Expenses' returned no results at all..... perhaps we typed the search incorrectly.

Name of Act Summary
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 The Dangerous Dogs Act requires all dog owners to keep their dogs under control in a public place. The Act places an enormous duty on every dog owner to ensure that his or her dog is under control at all times.
Animals Act 1971 The Animals Act establishes a strict liability on the keeper of a dog for any damage to other people and also in particular damage to livestock.
Criminal Damages Act 1971 Deals with stray dogs that may be involved in chasing birds. This Act, subject to restrictions, allows a person to kill or injure a dog to protect their property.
The Control of Dogs on Roads Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1995 Regulations which empowers Local Authorities to make regulations for the control of dogs on specified roads within its boundaries.
Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 Wide-ranging Act which includes a section on keeping dogs under control. There are a variety of measures that can be used by Council officials regarding dog control:
  • Acceptable behaviour contracts - these could be used by officers to address potential dog owner issues early, reducing the need for more formal measures.
  • Community Protection Notices (CPNs) can be served by Local Authorities, Police and designated officers and can be used as a statutory tool in case of irresponsible dog ownership.
  • Criminal Behaviour Orders can require an individual to comply with prohibitions to stop anti-social behaviour with dogs.
Dogs Act 1871 Makes provisions for dogs that are out of control.
Town Police Clauses Act 1847 It is an offence to have an agressive dog at large in the street.

The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issues guidance on dealing with irresponsible dog ownership - you can access this via our Links page HERE. The guidance includes a flow chart to assist Local Authorities and includes the potential use of Community Protection Notices, and taking legal action.


Thank you for your support.

Ann DeRizzio, Samantha Ramsay, Brian Watson, Katy Grierson

Email positive suggestions to: pspo@benjidog.co.uk