Ribble Valley dog walkers without poop bags face fine

Concerned Clitheroe pet owners and their loyal four-legged friends.
Concerned Clitheroe pet owners and their loyal four-legged friends.

Controversial plans forcing Ribble Valley dog owners to keep their pets on leads at all times have been ditched.

But under tough new rules, irresponsible dog owners will be fined £100 if they are caught not carrying a plastic bag to scoop up pet poo.

The move follows a consultation into tighter controls on dogs in public, which was launched by Ribble Valley Borough Council, under a proposed public space protection order.

The council wanted to tackle the scourge of dog poo in public, which would have resulted in dogs on leads on council land and public highways and prohibiting dogs from parish and town council-owned play areas and churchyards.

The move prompted a backlash from pet owners, who claimed the plans discriminated against dogs.

As a consequence, a petition was launched and signed by thousands of people opposing the plans.

At a meeting of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s Health and Housing Committee, councillors voted not to ban dogs off leads on public highways.

However, it was stressed under the “dogs on lead by direction” proposal, the council’s wardens can tell dog owners to keep their dogs on leads if they feel it necessary to do so.

In addition, dogs are banned from children’s play areas, the skate park, tennis court, basketball court, bowling green, sports pitches or other recreational facilities.

And a new order requires dog owners to demonstrate they have the appropriate means to pick up. If they do not, they will be fined.

A council spokesman said: “Dog mess is a nuisance and costs the council £30,000 a year to remove.

“We are forever receiving complaints from fed-up members of the public of dog waste in public areas.

“Not being aware that your dog, or a dog under your control, has fouled the land or not having suitable means to remove the dog’s waste are not reasonable excuses for failing to remove it.”

Clitheroe resident and dog owner Penny Pitty, said: “I think all of us are very satisfied with this result, which means that dogs are still able to be off lead in the Castle grounds, Brungerley Park and down at Edisford and with no additional requirements other than ‘having the means to pick up.

“It is worth adding that not all councils have had consultations prior to introducing PSPOs affecting dogs, and that a number of councillors have commented on how this has worked effectively in Ribble Valley, with over 2,000 signatures collected via petition and many hundreds of responses to the council regarding the proposals.”