Measures to help address anti-social behaviour associated with dog waste and uncontrolled dogs across North Devon are set to be agreed – but a summer dog ban on beaches has been scrapped.

North Devon Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee on Friday morning (November 13) recommended to full council that a new district Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to better address anti-social behaviour associated with irresponsible dog ownership is implemented.

The move follows a public consultation earlier this year, when North Devon’s residents were invited to comment on the proposals, with more than 3,000 responses being received.

The measures target the actions of a minority of dog owners who fail to pick up dog waste and allow their pets to run out of control, whilst still providing open spaces where owners can freely exercise their dogs.

Fines of £100 would be issued to anyone breaking the new rules, subject to full council approval.

But measures prohibiting the presence of dogs “off lead” on the Tarka Trail have been dropped from initial proposals, as have a ban on dog on beaches on Saunton Sands, Woolacombe Sands, Putsborough Sands, and Instow between Easter Day and September 30.

The PSPO includes the requirement for:

  • people to pick up after their dog
  • dog owners to place any out of control dog on a lead if requested
  • dogs to be on a lead in a public cemetery
  • dogs not to be present on any formal sports pitch or enclosed children’s play area
  • dogs not to be present on Croyde or Combe Martin beaches between May 1 and September 30
  • dogs not to be present near any High Tide Roosting Sites between October 1 and March 31
  • dogs to be on a lead in certain locations in Braunton Burrows at certain times of year – as clarified by the landowner

Officers will be able to issue fixed penalty notices of £100 to people who breach any of the new controls, although people who have an assistance dog will be exempted from the measures.

Andy Cole, environmental protection service lead, in his report to the meeting said that there was majority support for the controls in relation to controlling dog fouling,  dog control, the formal sports pitches, the Braunton Burrows special area of conservation and high tide resting sites, but majority opposition for the controls on the amenity beaches and the Tarka Trail.

He added: “Individual landowners who request controls to be introduced on their land will be required to install signage as per the finalised Council designs. A high profile communications exercise will be undertaken to promote responsible dog ownership and to ensure there is a high level of awareness of the controls amongst the community.”

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Supporting the new controls, Cllr Netti Pearson, lead member for environment said: “Dogs can be wonderful companions and bring health and social benefits to their owners, the majority of whom are very responsible when it comes to their pets.

“It’s a shame that we need to consider any sort of control but there is a small minority in our district who persist with the antisocial behaviour associated with dog fouling and failure to control their dogs.

“These measures are designed to make shared spaces enjoyable for all and our approach takes into account the views from the consultation and should not have a negative impact upon the responsible majority of dog-owners; they are purely intended to help reduce problem behaviour by the minority for the benefit of the community.

“It was great to see the number of responses we got and the report reflects the feelings that we had. I fully support the proposals which are as unrestrictive as possible but make sure we have shared spaces that everyone can use comfortably.”

Cllr Frank Biederman added: “I am pleased with the outcome and this is something that will help everyone enjoy our outdoor spaces, dog owners and non-dog owners alike.”

The committee unanimously recommended that full council approve the measures identified when they meet later this month.