COUNCILLORS have dumped controversial plans to force dog owners to keep their animals on leads on the district’s cycleways.
The idea, which provoked fierce debate among owners and cyclists, was this week abandoned by Lancaster City Council’s cabinet, but councillors agreed that the rule should come into force on most roads and footpaths in the area.
It was one of four new dog control orders proposed the council.
A public consultation sparked 849 responses, but a council report said that most of them, including those from cyclists, were against the cycleway proposal.
It said a survey conducted on the Millennium Park cycleway revealed that 68 per cent of people opposed the idea.
A survey on the busier Lancaster to Morecambe cycleway showed that 64 per cent of people supported the idea.
But the report said the general feeling was the rule was “unnecessary because most dog walkers, cyclists and other users take steps to avoid conflict with each other”.
The report added some people had argued that leads could be hazardous to cyclists and difficult to see.
Councillors also decided dogs should not have to be kept on leads on quiet rural lanes with a 40mph or higher speed limit after receiving objections from rural parishes.
The orders agreed will make it an offence to:
* Fail to keep a dog on a lead on defined areas of land including public highways, footways, verges, pedestrianised areas, council-run car parks, cemeteries, churchyards, certain council parks and gardens and Morecambe promenade slipways.
* Fail to remove dog faeces from publicly accessible land which is open to the air on at least one side.
* Allow a dog to enter defined exclusion areas, including enclosed playgrounds, sports pitches and the Happy Mount Park splash pool – Morecambe’s north and south beaches are already exclusion areas during the summer.
Resident Adam Hanlon, of Oakley Road, Heysham, said the proposals would make him a criminal for not walking his dog on a lead.
Mr Hanlon claimed the aims of the dog lead rules – to prevent fouling and nuisance behaviour by dogs – would not be met.
“I have seen owners with dogs on leads which have been fouling close to poop bins,” he said.
Mr Hanlon added existing enforcement powers could be used to deal with those problems, and that consultation had not been extensive enough, with many public notices only being put up three days before it ended.
But the council’s public health team leader, Susan Clowes, told councillors 140 notices had gone up. She said the orders had also been communicated through the media, social media, town councils and parish councils, as well as via libraries, The Kennel Club, Hest Bank Kennels and an information day at Asda Lancaster.
Coun Karen Leytham, cabinet member for environmental health, said: “We did everything over and above what we needed to do. This was a consultation, not a referendum, and it was never a fait accompli – we listened to people.”
Anyone breaching the new orders faces an £80 fixed penalty – reduced to £50 if paid promptly.