To consider report HCS/34 of the Head of Community Services, which was referred to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on 10 January 2022.
The Leader of the Council supported by the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing presented report HCS/34 of the Head of Community Services. At its meeting of 8 September 2021, Cabinet had requested that Officers bring a further report back for its consideration, which provided more detail with regards to the potential implementation of Option 3 referred to within the report HCS/30 Petition “Keep your dog on a lead in Tilgate Park”. In order for Cabinet to make an informed decision, it had been requested that the further report provide information on Option 3, the possible changes to service delivery and personnel, expected financial implications and any legal aspects. This should include details on the use of bye-laws and the installation of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) together with the associated statutory consultation requirements.
Members were reminded that the Council did have policies in place, especially round the main Tilgate Lake to try and discourage dog owners from having their dogs off the leads. However, there had been reports of wildfowl being killed and people either being chased or attacked by dogs which were not on a lead, which had lead to the submission of the original petition.
In evaluating the report and the concept of installing at PSPO at Tilgate Park, it was emphasised that one of the key elements in adopting any PSPO was the requirement for a public consultation, the feedback of which would help to inform any decision. It was reiterated that the final decision on any potential adoption of a PSPO would be a decision by the Full Council, and as such, all Councillors would be involved in the decision which was due to be taken at the July 2022 meeting of the Full Council.
Councillor T Belben presented the Overview and Scrutiny Commission’s comments on the report to the Cabinet following consideration of the matter at its meeting on 10 January 2022. The comments included three recommendations that the Commission felt would enhance and support the concerns raised in the petition and the proposed PSPO. The Commission’s recommendations to Cabinet were:
1. That a master plan of the restricted areas (map) outlining the exact geographical area affected by the PSPO be included in the PSPO report scheduled for Cabinet June 2022.
2. Requests that Cabinet investigate the opportunity to create a register of professional dog walkers in order to monitor the use.
3. Requests that Cabinet consider the implementation of a specific webpage (portal) or link (similar to the Council’s ‘report a problem’ page) to improve information sharing and the reporting of dog off leads instances, which would assist with the gathering of data and evidence.
It was also noted that the majority of Commission members supported the implementation of a PSPO.
Councillor Irvine also spoke as part of the discussion on the report.
That the Cabinet
a) agrees in principle to the implementation of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to prohibit dog related anti-social behaviour in Tilgate Park for a period of 3 years. This will require dogs to be kept on leads in all areas of the park unless explicitly specified otherwise. Dogs will not be permitted at all in the children’s play area or Walled Garden.
b) reinstate a proactive and high profile education and information programme, as set out in section 3.5, encouraging owners to keep their dogs on leads in Tilgate Park.
c) approves delivery of associated enforcement action from within existing revenue resource (Community Wardens service).
d) authorises the Head of Community Services, in consultation with the Head of Legal, Governance & HR, to commence a formal PSPO process, including the statutory public consultation, and to present the findings to Cabinet for a decision.
e) supports the proposals from the Commission that:
i. a master plan of the restricted areas (map) outlining the exact geographical area affected by the PSPO be included in the PSPO report scheduled for Cabinet June 2022.
ii. officers be instructed to investigate the opportunity to create a register of professional dog walkers in order to monitor the use.
iii. a specific webpage (portal) or link (similar to the Council’s ‘report a problem’ page) be created to improve information sharing and the reporting of dog off leads instances, which would assist with the gathering of data and evidence.