Merton Council Could Strengthen Dog Control Orders

Residents asked to comment following complaints

Merton Council is asking residents if they think the current rules for dog walkers and owners are adequate or should be extended in order to keep the borough clean and safe.

The consultation, which has recently been launched, asks if fines should continue to be imposed on dog walkers and owners who fail to clear up after dogs in their care.

It also asks whether the council and police should have the authority to instruct those in charge of dogs to put them on a lead and if the number of dogs one person can walk at any one time should be limited to a maximum of four.

The move follows complaints from park users and dog owners about loose dogs and dog walkers trying to control too many animals.

The council will consider all views put forward when it draws up a set of powers as part of the new borough-wide Public Space Protection Order which will replace existing laws on dog control.

Merton currently has two Dog Control Orders (DCOs) in place:

  • It is an offence for any dog owner or dog walker to fail to clear up after their dog. This order applies across the whole borough.
  • Designated dog-free areas - This order applies to specific parts of the borough, for example children's play areas.

New DCOs could cover the following:

  • Prohibition of dog fouling ensuring owners and walkers clear up after their dogs.
  • Dog exclusion areas such as playgrounds and enclosed/fenced play or sports areas, including multi-use games areas, basketball and tennis courts, outdoor gyms, bowling greens and skate parks.
  • Dogs must be put on a lead in public open spaces when directed to do so by an authorised council officer, council-appointed specialist contractor or police officer/police community support officer. This would include Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common, but excluding Wimbledon Common, which has its own byelaws. This PSPO is being considered because the council has received growing reports from park users whose dogs are being attacked by loose dogs whose owners have no control over them.
  • The maximum number of dogs that can be walked by one person in all public open spaces at any one time is four. This would include Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common, but excluding Wimbledon Common, which has its own byelaws.This order is being considered due to concerns about the ability of dog walkers to properly manage more than four dogs at any one time and clean up after them.

Contravention of a PSPO results in the issue of a fixed penalty notice. Non-payment may result in prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

Merton Council cabinet member for community and culture Councillor Nick Draper said: “The consultation is about finding out the best way in which we can all promote responsible dog walking in Merton’s parks and open spaces. It’s important we encourage people to handle their dogs in a responsible way so that our parks and green spaces are kept safe and clean for all park users.”

Tell the council what you think about dog control orders by completing their online survey. All responses must be received by October 30, when the consultation closes.

August 31, 2017