A COUNCIL has been forced into a U-turn over plans to ban dogs from sports fields.
Gosport Borough Council had wanted the measure as part of a plan to tackle the problem of dog mess.
But following a consultation, pets will only be barred when a game is being played.
And dogs will now only be banned from areas with fixed play equipment, despite an original proposal that dogs would not be allowed in all enclosed play areas.
From May 1, the council will also restrict the number of dogs people can walk to a maximum number of four from six as part of its Public Space Protection Order.
Cllr Graham Burgess, pictured, chair of the community board, said: ‘Many dog owners and dog walkers had strong views, which we’ve taken into account.
Many dog owners and dog walkers had strong views, which we’ve taken into account.Councillor Graham Burgess
‘However, in a densely-populated borough like Gosport, we do believe new rules are needed to deal with people leaving dog mess.
‘Councillors get many complaints from residents about these issues.
‘We know the majority of people who own or walk dogs are responsible.
‘The proposals are aimed at the minority who aren’t.’
Allison Windle, who owns dog-walking business A Fleeting Visit and attended the meeting, said she is happy because the council has listened to the people of Gosport.
She said: ‘You have got to have a number but maybe there is a better way around it.
‘People who might have five dogs and get up an hour early before work will now have to get up two hours early.
‘Dog mess is a problem but there is a lot of other things like fly-tipping and people cycling on pavements that, to me, would be a bigger problem.
‘I think the council needs to educate people rather than slapping fines on them.’
Lib Dem Cllr Rob Hylands said he was in full support of the order but thinks the authority should allow officers to use their initiative more.
Cllr Hylands said: ‘Something does need to be done about responsible dog owners in the borough. But, the one part which I found a little bit silly which is the number of dogs.
‘I think officers know the difference between someone walking five chihuahuas and struggling with four great danes.
‘It is just the few irresponsible people who need to be caught and they either need to be warned and if people do not I would expect the council to be taking action.’
As reported by The News, the council’s community board announced in November it was to run a consultation to open up a discussion for a potential order that would address a number of issues. It received 389 comments.