CONTROVERSIAL by-laws on dog controls in parks have been an unexpected casualty of the coronavirus.
According to Dukes Ward Cllr John Pugh, Lib Dem leader on Sefton Council, dog owners and council are now trapped in a ‘legal limbo’ that can only create uncertainty and confusion.
The by-laws introduced more than a year ago initially brought about clashes between dog owners and wardens with dog owners having no right of appeal against on the spot fines.
Some dog owners claimed the demarcation of parks into exclusion or controlled areas was unclear and the Council was pressed into improving signage. However, there was no mechanism for dog owners who felt they had made an unavoidable mistake or had been unfairly picked on to complain.
Mr Pugh said: “The Council legally had to conduct review of the scheme as a pre-condition of it carrying on beyond the initial trial period. That simply hasn’t been possible during the lockdown making the current scheme effectively dead.
“Nonetheless, the signs and division of the parks into areas still exist as will the problems the scheme clumsily tried to prevent. There was a general acceptance that we needed to minimise the risk of dog faeces in play, sports and recreation areas.
“Now we have a situation were conflict between dog owners and concerned members of the public might still occur in certain areas with no-one being clear who has got the law on their side. It’s not satisfactory as by accident we have replaced one set of problems with another. "
A spokesperson for Sefton Council said: “As with all orders, we have a statutory obligation to consult with residents after a certain time period to ensure it is suitable to protect our communities.
“The currently three year period for the Sefton Dogs Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) is set to expire in mid-July and while we had already begun a consultation on its replacement, this was unfortunately suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will be consulting on a new PSPO in due course when it is appropriate to do so but we would like to remind residents that bylaws still remain in place to ensure safe and responsible dog ownership.
“All dog owners should continue to act in a considerate and responsible way, keeping their dogs under control and always cleaning up after them.”