Dogs could land owners in a fine mess

NEW powers due to come into effect within months mean south east Northumberland’s dog owners face on-the-spot fines of £75 for letting their pets off their leads or failing to clean up after them.

Monday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s executive approved four new dog control orders to replace the numerous by-laws currently in force throughout the county.

Those committing offences face fines of up to £1,000, but £75 fixed-penalty notices will be offered as an alternative to prosecution.

Coun Alan Thompson, the authority’s executive member for public protection, said: “Nothing in this world creates as much aggravation as dog lovers and dog haters.

“A lot of common sense has been used in the way this policy has been drafted.”

The four offences in the new orders are failing to remove dog faeces, not keeping a dog on a lead, not putting a dog on a lead when directed to do so and permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded.

Under the rules, dogs must be kept on leads on any memorial or cemetery land as well as on or on the side of any A and B roads, or any public space if asked to do so by a “authorised officer of the Authority”.

Dogs are excluded completely from children’s play parks and specific areas of the beaches at Blyth and Newbiggin by the Sea.

These orders were established following a consultation which gathered over 3,000 responses from both dog owners and people without dogs.

A majority of people agreed with the orders on dog faeces and keeping dogs on leads when directed, while over 50 per cent of respondents disagreed with the order to ban dogs from certain places.