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We need your views on controlling dogs in public

This consultation has now closed.

Date of consultation: Friday, June 2, 2023 - Friday, August 18, 2023

Consultation summary

In 2012, Stroud District Council made 4 Dog Control Orders to address issues relating to dogs. In 2017, those Orders transitioned into PSPOs unchanged. These PSPOs remain in force and the table below summarises the Orders for your information:-

Identifier

Summary of Order Provisions

PSPO1

Failure to remove the faeces when a dog under the person’s control has

defecated on any land within the District which is open to the air and to

which the public has a right of access. Exemptions exist for assistance

dogs.

PSPO2

Failure to put a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised

officer of the Council, if such restraint is necessary to prevent a

nuisance, behaviour likely to cause annoyance or disturbance to a

person or the worrying or disturbance of any animal or bird. This also

applies to all land within the District which is open to the air and to

which the public has a right of access.

PSPO3

Permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded which

applies (where signed at the entrance) to any fenced, hedged or walled

children’s play area, bowling green, croquet lawn, tennis court,

skateboard park, cycle enclosure, putting green or other sporting or

recreational facility. Exemptions exist for assistance dogs.

PSPO4

Not keeping a dog on a lead in a designated area. This applies to all

allotments, cemeteries, car parks, canal towpaths and designated cycle

tracks as well as specified footpaths routinely used to access any

primary, secondary or high school or college.

 

PSPOs can apply for a maximum of 3 years, at which time a process of review and consultation must be undertaken to assess the need for the Order to be extended by up to a further 3 years. There is no limit on the number of times that a PSPO may be extended. The current PSPOs effectively “expire” in October 2023 without such extension.

Thus, this correspondence seeks to formally consult you on your views on the extension of the 4 current PSPOs. A brief summary of the current position and a recommendation for each of the existing Orders is set out below for your consideration.

PSPO1 – Fouling:

With respect to the need to require the removal of dog faeces, fouling in an area is clearly detrimental, both in terms of the unpleasantness of its appearance, its odour and its disease transmission potential.

Dog fouling remains a significant problem across the whole District and was the subject of 176 complaints in 2021 and 160 complaints in 2022 from members of the public. While the great majority of dog owners are responsible and clear up after their dogs, there remains a significant minority who disregard the law.

The power to serve Fixed Penalty Notices and/or prosecute identified offenders is vital in seeking to address the issue alongside a toolkit of more educational approaches. To not retain these powers would send out entirely the wrong message in respect of how the Council views this irresponsible, anti-social behaviour and, were that the case, one would expect the situation to deteriorate. Thus, it is proposed to retain the powers contained in this PSPO for a further 3 years.

PSPO2 – Dog on Lead when Directed to Do So:

This second PSPO relates to persons being required to put a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer of the Council, where this is required to prevent nuisance, disturbance or animal worrying. It is clear that dogs that are not under proper control can prove alarming and intimidating to both adults and children.

The ability to require dogs to be put on a lead allows a focussed and targeted approach to tackling individuals that allow their dogs to run out of control, without negatively impacting on the vast majority of dog owners. This power remains a useful backstop to ensure compliance with such interventions. Thus, it is proposed to retain the powers contained in this PSPO for a further 3 years.

PSPO3 - Permitting a Dog to Enter Land from Which it is Excluded:

The third PSPO relates to the exclusion of dogs from designated signed areas, for example fenced, hedged or walled children’s play areas, bowling greens, croquet lawns, tennis courts, skateboard parks, cycle enclosures, putting greens or other sporting or recreational facilities.

Once again there is a clear need for this provision to ensure that dogs do not enter areas where there is a clear conflict between their presence and that of other users. Their exclusion also greatly reduces the potential issue of fouling, thus enabling safe and clean access for people, especially those with young children. Compliance is reported as very good as the rationale for the exclusion appears to be widely understood and supported and clear signage has proven effective in highlighting the requirement. However, any loss of the exclusionary powers could reasonably be expected to lead to an increase in problems to users of the areas. Consequently, it is proposed to retain the powers contained in this PSPO for a further 3 years.

PSPO4 – Dogs on Leads in Specified Areas:

The fourth DCO relates to a requirement to keep dogs on a lead in designated areas such as allotments, cemeteries, car parks, canal towpaths and designated cycle tracks.

Complaints from the public in respect of these matters are relatively rare. Additionally, officers report that enforcement of this PSPO in relation to the canal towpaths and cycle tracks has proven to be very difficult and has led to obstruction of officers in the form of refusing to provide details as well as threats to officers. This resistance appears to stem from a perceived unfairness among dog owners in respect of having to put dogs on leads in what are regarded as “shared spaces” when they may be clearly walking to heel and, as such, are largely under control. Exercising off the lead is accepted as an important benefit for dogs and a requirement for dogs to be on leads on many miles of track or towpath provided for leisure and recreation is perceived by some as disproportionately prohibitive.

Given that uncontrolled behaviour, where identified, may be addressed by utilising other PSPOs, for example by directing that dogs be put on a lead, it was proposed in the 2020 consultation to remove cycle tracks and canal towpaths from this Order. At that time 53% of responding formal consultees and 71% of responding members of the public favoured the retention of the PSPO unchanged and, as a consequence, that was the decision taken.

However, the same issues remain as in 2020. As then, it is felt that removal of the cycle tracks and towpaths element of this Order represents a logical, proportionate and targeted approach to identified problems. Additionally, other powers can be utilised to tackle specific problem owners and behaviours, for example Community Protection Notices, rather than taking a blanket approach.

Thus, it is again proposed in this consultation to remove cycle tracks and canal towpaths from this particular Order. It is, though, proposed to retain the other exclusion areas, for example cemeteries, in a slightly amended Order for a further 3 years.

Why we are consulting 

To summarise - Currently, the 4 PSPOs require dog owners to:

1. Pick up dog faeces
2. Put dogs on leads when directed to do so by an officer
3. Keep dogs out of areas signed as exclusion areas, e.g. children’s play areas
4. Keep dogs on leads in designated areas such as allotments, cemeteries, car parks, canal towpaths and designated cycle tracks.

Stroud District Council proposes to extend the use of PSPOs for a further 3 years, the maximum period allowed, from October 2023.

It is proposed to leave the first three orders unchanged but to make one change to the fourth order by removing canal towpaths and designated cycle tracks from the designated areas.

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