Dog owners to face instant fines for foul play under new rules

Liverpool City Council is set to rein in dog owners who let their pets foul in public places – and then don’t bin it.

The council is to introduce a city-wide Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that will see owners fined for failing to bag and dispose of dog mess.

The proposals went out to public consultation this summer, after the city council received 1,865 complaints regarding dog fouling between January 2020 to January 2022. Almost 80% of respondents supported the PSPO.

The council’s Highways and Public Spaces Committee has this evening just approved its introduction, which will also see dogs banned from Children’s Play areas and fully enclosed sports grounds/areas such as football pitches, tennis courts and bowling greens.  

This ban will also include fully enclosed sports areas commonly known as multiactivity areas. Certain people would be exempt from the order such as those using disability dogs.

Owners will be also required to put their pet on a lead in all of the city’s cemeteries and crematoria, as well as St Johns Gardens in the city centre.

Authorised officers would also have the right to ask owners to put dogs on leads if they were found to be flouting the rules.

Any person falling foul of the new order will be committing an offence punishable by an on-the-spot £80 fine – which could rise to £1,000 if the offence went to court.

This new PSPO forms a key part of a new 12-month environment action programme which the city council is developing as a result of its new partnership with Keep Britain Tidy , with a focus on issues such as litter in parks and fly-tipping.

The decision also comes just weeks after the council became the first in the UK to install a network of subterranean super-bins  to tackle bin bag litter. And last week the council also launched a cigarette litter awareness campaign.

Once the PSPO is legally sealed and published later this week, the council will then install new signage in the city’s affected areas. At this point, the order will become enforceable.

Councillor Liam Robinson, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services, said: “We’ve listened to all those who have complained about this issue over the past few years, and today I’m glad to say Liverpool City Council has acted.

“Our parks and open spaces are hugely important community assets – as the Covid-19 pandemic vividly underlined – and we can’t let a minority ruin the joy they bring for everyone else.

“These enforcement powers under this new PSPO provides clarity on what the rules are and they also strike the right balance – allowing people to continue to enjoy walking their dogs but giving the council the tools to instantly fine those who spoil that experience.

“The council has invested millions of pounds in upgrading our play areas and we need to ensure they are kept as clean and tidy as possible for families and their children to enjoy.

“Dogs not on leads in public spaces has also become a concern, as our colleagues in Merseyside Police can testify, and we’ve had too many reports of deaths to wildlife in our parks to just sit here and do nothing.

“As with any new rules, they will take time bed in and we’ll review them and continue to listen to park users and dog owners to see if and how they can be improved.”

Did you know…?

Liverpool City Council has dealt with 41 complaints of dog incidents in play areas over the last two years and received eight complaints of damage and dog fouling to play equipment caused by dogs. In 2021 a play area was so badly contaminated with dog fouling that it had to be shut for a deep clean.

The PSPO is also a quality of life issue. Dog faeces is a public health issue and can cause Toxocariasis, a rare infection caused by roundworm parasites. The parasites are more likely to affect young children as they are most likely to come into contact with it.

In addition to tackling dog fouling, Merseyside Police has also recorded 570 crimes in relation to dogs that have been dangerously out of control across the city in the past three years, demonstrating the importance of safe spaces for people and children to play and exercise.

Dogs are currently excluded from a large proportion of play areas, sports pitches and walled gardens, under the 1994 Control of Dogs Byelaws. However, this does not permit the issuing of a fixed penalty notice. The new PSPO would mean Council Enforcement Officers, Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers would be able to issue fixed penalties as an alternative to a court summons.

These officers will also be trained and authorised to demand that dogs be also placed on leads. The new legislation will apply to the whole of Liverpool, including streets, parks and open spaces.

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