Shropshire Star

New dog rules would mean 'putting sheep dogs and hunt hounds on leads' - councillor

Hunt hounds and working sheep dogs would have to be 'kept on leads' under proposed dog control rules, fears one Shropshire councillor.

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A sheep dog in action

Shropshire Council is consulting on a new proposed Public Space Protection Order but Councillor Andy Boddington thinks they have been 'cut and pasted' and are more appropriate for urban areas.

The council says it is encouraging people to respond to the consultation so it can "adjust the draft proposals so that they are reasonable and enforceable".

Councillor Boddington said: "The proposals are currently out for consultation but they should have been improved beforehand.

"Instead, the proposals look like they have been cut and pasted from control orders in urban authorities."

Councillor Boddington, who represents Ludlow North said he supports the principle of the PSPO but believes it could have unintended consequences for working animals if it is not improved.

"I support the principle of the order but it could have been better drafted to avoid adverse consequences including for example, insisting that working dogs must be kept on a lead on the highway," he said.

“Imagine it. The Boxing Day Hunt streams out of Ludlow Castle and as soon as the pack gets to Mill Street, the master of the hunt would have to order that all the beagles are put on leads!

“Many people might welcome this but I very much doubt that it is Shropshire Council’s intention."

He added: "The pack will also need to be on leads when out on its regular exercise on country lanes around Ludlow.

“Farmers regularly use sheep dogs to guide cattle or sheep from field to field along rural lanes in South Shropshire.

"I have watched sheep dogs guide cattle along the lane to the milking shed at Steventon on the outskirts of Ludlow many times.

"Shropshire Council is proposing that all dogs on the highway must be on a lead no longer than one metre. How will that work for working dogs?

"The proposed order, which appears to be based on others issued in urban areas, does not include an exemption for working dogs. "

Councillor Andy Boddington added: “These could be the absurd consequences of ill-thought through proposals, which were rushed out with little debate or forethought.

“The council changed the way it scrutinised what it was doing several years ago. The former scrutiny committees became overview and scrutiny committees, with a remit to look at policies the council was developing as well as how policies were performing.

“This proposal for a Public Space Protection Order to control dogs was not taken though overview and scrutiny. That means it hasn’t had the detailed examination which would have identified the obvious flaws in the proposals. Instead of getting the scheme right itself, the council is now expecting the public to do its work for it.

“This is no way to introduce a policy that will affect the owners of around 148,000 dogs across Shropshire, including working dogs.”

Councillor Boddington has previously dubbed the proposals the toughest dog control rules in Britain.

A breach of the PSPO could be dealt with through a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £100, or a fine of up to £1,000 on prosecution.

A spokesperson from Shropshire Council said: "The details relating to the PSPO haven’t yet been decided and that’s why we’re seeking people’s views as part of the consultation.

"Such feedback will enable us to adjust the draft proposals so that they are reasonable and enforceable.

“We therefore encourage people to look at our proposals and tell us what they think.”

The new orders would:

  • Ban owners from allowing dog fouling in the public area

  • Direct owners to appropriately remove and dispose of dog waste if a dog has been allowed to foul

  • Exclude dogs from play areas, equipped and fenced sports areas

  • Give officials powers to order dogs to be kept on leads

  • Direct that dogs must be on leads no longer than 1m on the highway.

Details of how to respond to the consultation are on the Shropshire Council website.