The Executive Director for Growth and Place submitted a report, the purpose of which was to determine whether the current Dog Control Order, which covered the Council-owned Cemeteries and Crematorium, would be replaced with a Public Space Protection Order following a public consultation.
On 1st August 2007, Middlesbrough Council introduced a Dog Control Order (DCO) that covered Acklam Cemetery, Teesside Crematorium, Linthorpe Cemetery, North Ormesby/St Josephs combined Cemetery, Thorntree Roman Catholic Cemetery and Thorntree Cemetery. The order was introduced following a public consultation using powers contained in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. The order contained the following requirements for anyone bringing a dog into the areas covered by the order, subject to exemptions around people who were registered as blind or disabled, and had an assistance dog provided by one of three registered charities:
That dogs would be kept on a lead not exceeding 2m in length; and
That those in charge of a dog would pick up any fouling.
The report outlined in detail the current arrangements for DCOs, Designated Public Place Orders (DPPO) and Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) within Middlesbrough, as well as information regarding the six-week public consultation exercise that had been undertaken.
It was proposed that the enforcement of the new PSPO would have two elements to it:
That any offences covered by the existing DCO, where there was effectively no change in the law, would continue as before - including formal enforcement such as the issuing of fixed penalty notices and prosecution through the Magistrates Court for non-payment; and
For the new offences focussed around anti-social behaviour, a three-month amnesty period would be introduced, whereby advice and guidance would be issued to people who breached the Order. It was envisaged in due course that all relevant enforcement staff would be trained to carry out this work.
The Councils existing rules on the enforcement of fixed penalty notices would be applied in all cases, including rules on first and subsequent offences, and underage offenders. Current arrangements allowed the Enviro-crime Unit in Streetscene Services to issue fixed penalty notices for the existing DCO. The new legislation allowed police and Local Authority staff to enforce the new provisions, therefore additional training would be provided to Local Authority staff in Environmental Health and Community Safety services.
There were several options available:
a) Do nothing - with this option the DCO would become a PSPO with the same conditions as outlined above. This option would continue to provide rules around dogs that were brought into the cemetery, but would not assist with the issues that had been identified around anti-social behaviour.
b) Revoke the Existing DCO - with this option the rules around dog fouling and dog leads would cease to have effect. This was not recommended as the evidence suggested that they had been effective in allowing keepers to bring their dogs into cemetery grounds, to visit graves or memorials or simply to exercise, while maintaining a level of respect that was appropriate to the surroundings. If dog fouling was not included in the Order, then it would effectively make these areas the only public open green spaces within Middlesbrough unprotected by dog fouling legislation.
c) Introduce a new PSPO to Cover Dogs and Anti-Social Behaviour - this was the preferred option as the evidence from the consultation suggested that there were issues that needed to be addressed, which were wider than the current DCO. The DCO had been successful in controlling behaviour surrounding dogs, and this would provide a mechanism both to advise of the rules, and to deal with those who chose to flaunt them. In particular this would protect the bereaved while allowing wider use of the areas by well-behaved persons. A draft Order for consideration was attached at Appendix 5 of the submitted report.
That a new Public Space Protection Order be introduced with effect from March 31st 2017, to control dogs and anti-social behaviour in Acklam Cemetery, Teesside Crematorium, Linthorpe Cemetery, North Ormesby/St Josephs combined Cemetery, Thorntree Roman Catholic Cemetery and Thorntree Cemetery.
That the level of fixed penalty notice for breach of the Order be set at £80, with a discount to £50 for early payment.
That a three-month amnesty period be introduced for enforcement of the new requirements of the PSPO, when advice and guidance was given, prior to commencement of the formal enforcement process. This would not apply to any of the existing rules which had been part of the current Dog Control Order and were unchanged.
The decision was supported by the following reason:
The data held by the Council together with the outcome of the public consultation suggested there was persistent and unreasonable behaviour affecting the quality of life of users of the sites, and this option best matched those concerns.