Clampdown on Yarmouth dog fouling

A CLAMPDOWN on dirty dog owers could see borough-wide dog control orders replace the current tangle of bylaws - with on-the-spot fines of up to �80 for offending pet owners.

Environmental health bosses say the muddle of laws currently in place is confusing for Yarmouth pet owners and means there is no legal backing for signage in some places.

And they hope dog control orders – which could punish dog fouling, ban dogs from certain areas and order that dogs be kept on leads – will give the law more teeth.

Kate Watts, environmental health manager for Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “What we’ve got at the moment is lots of itty bitty bylaws and there’s no consistency.

“This is relatively new legislation and makes it clear what people can and can’t do.

“It will make it easier for enforcement and easier to issue fixed penalty notices.”

Dog control orders – under the Clean Neighbourhoods Act 2005 – mean local authorities can issue fines of up to �1,000 to pet owners, and on-the-spot fines of up to �80.

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And while environmental rangers can take people to court under the current set-up, they say many people are escaping punishment – but dog control orders would remedy this.

“If we catch somebody letting their dog foul, we can take them to court,” explained Ms Watts.

“But some people aren’t prepared to give witness statements and go to court.

“It frustrates the residents, but unless they stand up and say we saw it there’s currently nothing we can do.

“But with fixed penalty notice they will get a fine and won’t have to be taken to court.”

A consultation – which will help decide if dog control orders will be put in place – will be launched with parish councils and landowners on April 1 and run for up to nine months.

“It’s really important the residents get the chance to say what they want in their area,” added Ms Watts.

Dog legislation is currently enforced by the council’s environmental rangers and backed up by seafront management, beach guards, police and trained dog wardens in some parishes.

The Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 is the main piece of legislation currently enforced by the council, with additional laws covering dogs on beaches, keeping dogs on leads and banning dogs from cemeteries and play- grounds.

Yarmouth’s legislation has not been reviewed for 16 years, and there are a large number of separate controls.

This means there are a number of sites – such as playgrounds – where signage and fences state no dogs but there is no law in place to enforce this.

If dog control orders are made, there must be 14 days before the orders can be enforced.

The council estimates it would cost �5,000 to put up the relevant new signage.