Thursday, 7 September 2017

Thanet District Council's Public Space Protection Order Consultation response

Dear Thanet Council,

I'm writing to comment on the Council's proposed 
Public Spaces Protection Order. I'm a dog owner of nine years in the Thanet area. I consider myself to be a responsible dog owner. I have two dogs and I live in Margate Central. I would like to make the following points:


"The Anti‐social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 The Public Spaces Protection Order – (Thanet District Council) 2017 Thanet District Council (in this order called ‘’the Authority‘’) hereby makes the following Order: This Order comes into force on Monday 16th October 2017 for a period of 3 years. 

Offences 1. Fouling If within the administrative area of the Authority a dog defecates at any time on land to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission and a person who is in charge of the dog at the time fails to remove the faeces from the land forthwith, that person shall be guilty of an offence unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. "
I support this proposal.

"2. Leads by Order A person in charge of a dog shall be guilty of an offence if, at any time, within the administrative area of the Authority They do not comply with a direction given to them by an authorised officer of the Authority to put and keep the dog on a lead unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; or b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. An authorised officer may only give a direction under this order if such restraint is reasonably necessary to prevent a nuisance or behaviour by the dog that is likely to cause annoyance or disturbance to any other person, or to wildlife or another animal."

- This statement does not describe what is the definition of a lead.
How long is a lead and should a person be holding it, or merely have a lead attached to a dog. Leads come in many lengths eg, 10m, 20m. Some extending leads that allow a dog to run free and range wide. I suggest the order should define the length of lead and that it be held not trailing.

"3) Leads A person in charge of a dog shall be guilty of an offence if, at any time, (during the period specified in the schedule if stated), on land detailed in schedule 1, and 2 below they do not keep the dog on a lead unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; or b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so."
To request dog walkers put their dogs on leads if they are out of control, are likely to improve the daily life of responsible dog owners. I support this proposal.
"4)  Dog faeces Receptacle If within a public place in the administration area of the Authority a person who owns or is in in charge of a dog must have a suitable dog faeces receptacle to remove dog faeces on their person, if the person does not have in their possession a suitable dog faeces receptacle, that person shall   be guilty of an offence unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the  land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. "
- There is no evidence presented by the council to support this demand this of all dog walkers rather than targeting offenders. I support proactive efforts on behalf of the council to encourage responsible dog ownership, I believe this particular measure could see responsible owners being penalised unfairly. 
- There is a lack of definition of what is a suitable dog faeces receptacle. Requiring all owners to have to show receptacles on demand is a blanket application affecting responsible dog owners not those who have caused the problems. Not having a receptacle is not an indication that someone wouldn’t pick up faces, nor is having a receptacle an indication that an irresponsible dog owner would actually pick up faces. If a responsible dog owner’s dog had already defecated and was on their way home, they might not have a receptacle with them. But if a serial offender never picks up they may always have a bag on their person. The authority should be concentrating on targeting offenders not the entire dog owning community, the majority of whom are responsible. This aspect of the proposal is in danger of giving pay per fine wardens an incentive to target dog owners who they have observed already pick up after their dogs. In the same way they have been observed following people smoking in the street rather than targeting people actually littering. 
- The Council should demonstrate why the use of more targeted restrictions such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Community Protection Notices would not be sufficient to deal with the problem behaviours they’ve identified.
"The Keeping of Dogs on a Lead between the hours of 10am to 6pm from 1st May to 30th September This order applies to all land described below: Map West Bay Westgate Westgate‐on‐Sea 2 St Mildred’s Bay Westgate Westgate‐on‐Sea 3 Westbrook Bay Margate Westbrook Ward 4 Stone Bay Broadstairs Bradstowe 5 Botany Bay Broadstairs Kingsgate Ward 6 Joss bay Broadstairs Kingsgate Ward 7 Louisa Bay Broadstairs Viking Ward 8 Minnis Bay"
- Is it the Council’s intention to relax the current permissions where they have 10am - 6pm dog bans? The PSPO proposal reads like it intends these now to be on-lead only restrictions at key beaches like Botany Bay and Joss Bay. Yet the maps show a dog ban hatched in green. I would suggest the current restriction of a dogs ban on these beaches between 10am-6pm is sensible to continue with rather than make them on-lead only between 10am-6pm. The map doesn't show an on-lead only area.



- I would further like to see a clear dog on-lead requirement on all seafront promenades that is clearly marked, so that people area able to walk on-lead dogs on what is effectively a pavement area and not the actual beach and that this restriction be all year round. This would create a safe environment for dog walkers and those without dogs free of off lead dogs that are potentially out of control. This is how dogs are managed on the public highway. The seafront promenade areas are like a pavement and it is safer for joggers, walkers, cyclists and indeed other dogs are on lead if dogs are only allowed off lead on the actual beaches of each bay. This will have the added benefit of reducing dog fouling on the seafront promenades because people pick up far more when dogs are on lead.
"(part) Birchington Birchington North 9 Walpole Bay Cliftonville Cliftonville East 10 Viking Bay Broadstairs Viking Ward Schedule 2 The Keeping of Dogs on a Lead 24 hours a day from the 1st May to 30th September"
Margate Main Sands:
There is a discrepancy in the area detailed by the Council on the map titled Margate Main Sands. The map doesn’t show the sea defence steps. There is no yellow hatched area at all indicating where the on lead dog rules would apply. Yet the table defines Margate Main Sands restrictions as on-lead between 1 May to 30 September. Either the whole of Margate Main sands should be yellow for on-lead or the table is in error. The lack of on-lead area in yellow will have the result that dogs will not be allowed to walk on the seafacing side of the road. The current rules under the DCO are a total 24 hour dog ban on the actual Margate Main Sands beach, but dogs allowed on the seafront promenade. I would be in favour of continuing this and with the clarification that dogs are allowed to walk along the promenade on-lead including the sea defence steps.  


- Walpole Bay: The map shows a yellow hatched area for on-lead only on the seafront promenade at Walpole Bay and a green dog ban on the beach section. The description of on a Lead 24 hours a day from the 1st May to 30th September  is therefore contradictory to the map. I would be in favour of dogs allowed on-lead on the seafront promenade from 1 May - September 30th and a total dog ban on the beach hatched green 1 May to Sept 30th. 


"This order applies to all land described below: All designated fenced children’s play areas, cemeteries, ball courts, and tennis courts"
I support these proposals.
Further comments:

A few years ago, the council removed without notice a fenced area on the cliff top at the beginning of The Ridings, which had previously been a golf course concession. For many years, dog walkers had used that area as a safe place to exercise dogs. There is a very real and constant risk of dogs falling off the top of the cliffs. A number of dogs fall every year. The area kept a number of dogs off the beaches and was an alternative exercise area. The Council has a duty to provide a place for dog walkers to exercise their dogs. As part of implementing restrictions, there is an element of dispersal issues that the Council should consider. I would welcome a fenced area such as this old golf course that had been fenced. If it was fenced with deer fencing, 1.9m high it would not be any more obtrusive than fencing around other amenities such as tennis courts and golf concessions. It would take a number of dogs off the beaches and give an alternative area for the summer months. 

Information on PSPOs from The Kennel Club