Arising from a report of the Environment and Enforcement Manager, the Environment Policy Development Group had made the following recommendations:
1) Authority be given to consult with members of the public and other relevant stakeholders to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order under section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
2) The fixed penalty for breach of the PSPO be set at the maximum permitted of £100
The Cabinet Member for the Environment and Climate Change outlined the contents of the report informing the meeting that this had been discussed towards the end of the previous year where some perceived inaccuracies had been identified, further work had taken place and the order had now been redrafted and the maps updated. He highlighted the appropriate areas where dogs could be let off leads, those areas excluded and the number of dogs that could be walked by one person; he also confirmed the fixed penalty charge.
In response to the question raised in Public Question Time, he stated that with regard to:
a) Demanding names and addresses - although we have never had this issue as far as I am aware, if this was to occur the officers would contact the police who would attend and request that the individual provides such details. The District Officers caution individuals before requesting this information.
b) Making contemporaneous video recordings - video cameras or recordings would only support the above offence if the individual refusing to give the information could be formally identified by Police or another officer.
Consideration was given to:
· Whether land at Cotteybrook, Tiverton was appropriate for dogs to be left off leads
· The above could be identified as part of the consultation process
· Whether a fixed penalty would be reduced if paid within a set period
· The thorough consideration of the document by the Policy Development Group
RESOLVED that the recommendation of the Policy Development Group be approved.
(Proposed by Cllr C R Slade and seconded by Cllr D J Knowles)
Reason for the Decision: to enable further consultation with a view to widening enforcement powers in order to deliver a cleaner and more sustainable environment across the Mid Devon District.
Following consideration of a *report of the Environment and Enforcement Manager, the Environment Policy Development Group has made the following recommendations: that the PSPO be redrafted to take account of the public consultation responses before it goes out for further public consultation on additional areas proposed. The revised PSPO be brought back to Environment PDG for recommendation to the Cabinet.
The Cabinet Member for the Environment outlined the contents of the report stating that the current PSPO ran out on 19 October 2020 and that there was a need to approve a new order. He felt that the consultation process had been well received and that key points from the consultation had been added to the document.
The Leader highlighted the fact that the PDG had recommended that the PSPO be redrafted and that a further consultation process take place, some errors had been highlighted and that there was a need for further work to take place.
The Head of Legal (Monitoring Officer) addressed some of the issues that had been raised through public question time and by members in recent days
· Why the report did not recommend changes in light of the consultation exercise – the view taken was that this was for the Cabinet as decision-maker.
· Whether a PSPO should be used as a last resort – the consideration of alternative measures was encouraged but the legislation did not require it.
· The restrictions must be justified on reasonable grounds in line with the statutory tests - if the Cabinet was not satisfied that there were reasonable grounds, they did not have to approve the making of the order now or in its current form.
· With regard to bye-laws, this was quite an old way of confirming restrictions and the enforcement of bye-laws was generally through prosecution or an injunction. It was difficult to see that this was a more proportionate response.
· The creation of different PSPOs for different issues - this was not necessary but there was no obstacles for doing this.
· Dog fouling did occur throughout the district and there would always be responsible and irresponsible dog ownership.
· Restriction of the number of dogs - this could be imposed, subject to the same tests mentioned above. The Local Government Association guidance referred to the need to focus on the number of dogs that could be controlled with the advice that this should not exceed 6.
· The requirement to identify (in terms of it being an offence not to do so) other than to a police officer was dropped in 2014.
· With regard to consulting with landowners, this should take place so far as it was reasonably practicable, the point being that unregistered land or absent owners might make it impracticable.
· A PSPO should be proportionate and enforceable.
· Mention of a higher standard of harassment and distress was not in the legislation. An assessment of proposed controls was part of the consultation and that the previous order had controls.
· Possible licences for the number of dogs that could be walked at any one time - this was not part of the statutory licensing process and was about property owners (i.e. councils) permitting certain professional dog walkers to exceed any restricted number by granting a license.
Consideration was given to:
· The possible use of Community Protection Notices and the reasons why they were not used
· The outcomes of the consultation and whether a variation to the order could be made
· Whether to increase the number of dogs walked by one person to 6
· The need for the document to be properly drafted
· Whether there was a need for a PSPO and whether other methods of control should be explored first
· What evidence was there that all the problems occurred in all the places identified and that the purpose of a PSPO was to deal with persistent matters
· The PSPO should be used proportionately and whether public order matters were occurring or whether it was just nuisance
· The resource available for enforcing breaches of the PSPO
· Whether there were less intrusive measures available
· Errors within the maps provided and that some of the play areas were not fenced
· The credibility of the figures provided as outlined in public question time
· Whether dog owners unable to let their dogs run free in open spaces would be pushed onto farmland which was not always appropriate
· Whether it was fair to put restrictions on all dog owners
· Whether further work was required to provide a sound document for approval
· The need to include some of the enclosed play areas missing from the draft document
RESOLVED that the recommendation of the Policy Development Group be approved
(Proposed by the Chairman)
Reason for the decision: To ensure that any future decision to adopt the PSPO be supported by a sound process and a sound order backed up by reasonable grounds for doing so.
Note: *Report previously circulated, copy attached to minutes.