This article was originally published in September 2014.
Central Bedfordshire Council (the Council) seeks to promote responsible dog ownership. We recognise that the vast majority of dog owners are caring and considerate as to the effect their dog has on others. One of the key issues in relation to promoting responsible dog ownership is tackling the problem of dog fouling – allowing a dog to foul and not clearing up after it.
The existing legislative framework concerning dog control and dog fouling is fragmented, limited in scope, and not fit for purpose e.g. significant types of land are not covered, or are covered by old bye-laws that are difficult to enforce and where a Fixed Penalty Notice cannot be issued.
2. Dog Control Orders
The Council has consulted widely on introducing a range of new Dog Control Orders, that are designed to meet local needs and that provide more flexibility in promoting responsible dog ownership. Responses were received from a range of stakeholders including town and councils, landowners, dogs’ charities, countryside user groups, and the Joint Local Access Forum. 529 persons responded to an on-line public questionnaire, with two thirds of respondents identifying themselves as dog owners.
The Council has made the following Dog Control Orders which come into force on 19 October 2014:
- The Fouling of Land by Dogs (Central Bedfordshire) Order 2014
This order will make it an offence for a person in charge of a dog to fail to remove dog foul.This will apply across the whole of Central Bedfordshire on any land that is open to the air and to which the public are entitled to have access, whether on payment or otherwise. The following are examples of the type of land to which this order would apply to: parks, public open spaces, town centres, roads, pavements, public footpaths, byways, bridleways, woodlands, agricultural land, access land and common land.
- The Dogs on Leads (Central Bedfordshire) Order 2014
This order will make it an offence for a person in charge of a dog to fail to ensure that it is on a lead of no more than 2 metres on any land to which this order applies.The order will apply to land across Central Bedfordshire which is used as a cemetery, burial ground, garden of remembrance, or marked sports pitch.
It will include all designated carriageways (A and B roads) and their adjoining footpaths and verges. And at countryside sites it will apply to some car parks, high use areas, including picnic sites, and areas where wildlife is sensitive to disturbance by dogs. Sites affected are Rushmere Country Park, Dunstable Downs, Houghton Hall Park, Sharpenhoe Clappers, Sundon Hills, Totternhoe Knolls Picnic Site, and Whipsnade Tree Cathedral.
- The Dogs on Leads by Direction (Central Bedfordshire) Order 2014
This order will make it an offence for a person in charge of a dog to fail to put that dog on a lead, and keep it on a lead, by direction of an authorised Council officer, dog warden, site manager or park ranger.It will apply across the whole of Central Bedfordshire on any land to which the public have access whether on payment or otherwise. The order will enable an authorised officer to respond to a situation where a dog is not under proper control and is likely to cause a nuisance or disturbance to other people or animals.
- The Dogs Exclusion (Central Bedfordshire) Order 2014
This order will make it an offence for a person in charge of a dog to permit the dog to enter or remain in an exclusion area.The order will apply to all enclosed children’s play areas and closed multi-use games areas across Central Bedfordshire. At Rushmere Country Park it will also restrict dogs from education areas and areas of designated recreational use.
Dog Control Orders provide exemptions in particular cases for registered blind people, deaf people, and for other people with disabilities who make use of trained assistance dogs. Additionally no offence will be committed if a person has a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with an order, or the person in control of the land has consented to his failing to do so. They exclude Forestry Commission Land which is exempt from the legislation, but do include Access Land.
The penalty for committing an offence contained in a Dog Control Order is a fine: alternatively the opportunity to pay a Fixed Penalty Notice of £80 may be offered in place of prosecution that can be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
These orders seek to strike a balance between the interests of those in charge of dogs and those affected by the activities of dogs, bearing in mind the need for people, in particular children, to have access to dog-free areas and areas where dogs are kept under proper control, and the need for those in charge of dogs to have access to areas where they can exercise their dogs without undue restriction. It also recognises that any order made requires enforcement, and that the Council has a limited amount of resource available for this purpose. Enforcement will be carried out by authorised Council officers, dog wardens, and countryside site managers and park rangers.
Signs will be erected to advise those in charge of dogs of the relevant restrictions in their locality.
Inspecting or obtaining copies of the Orders
The Orders may be inspected by arrangement at The Council Offices, Watling House, High Street North, Dunstable, or copies obtained, by writing to Steve Barrett, Community Safety Operations Manager, at the above address; or by telephone by calling 0300 300 5639; or by