Hundreds of Wiganers want dogs banned from children's play areas and sports pitches

Hundreds of Wigan residents say dogs should be banned from children’s play areas and sports pitches across the borough.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 1:04 pm
Mesnes Park in Wigan town centre
Mesnes Park in Wigan town centre

Wigan council wants to adopt tougher powers to crack down on dog mess, which costs the town hall £150k per year to clean up.

Public space protection orders (PSPOs) could soon cover dog fouling hotspots, and irresponsible owners showing a ‘total lack of respect’ for the rules face fines of £100.

If approved, the PSPOs could see an outright ban on dogs inside children’s play areas within public parks,

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Owners would also be required to keep them on leads in defined areas around such play facilities and within churchyards and cemeteries.

The plans were put out to consultation and so far 469 members of the public – mostly non-dog owners – have responded.

And a report to the council’s confident places scrutiny committee shows that 384 people support excluding dogs from play areas and pitches.

One consultee said: “It’s dangerous to allow dogs to foul in these places, it’s a hazard to health.”

PSPOs are proposed around play areas in the following public parks; Haigh Hall, Pennington Flash, Mesnes Park, Jubilee Park, Central Park/Morley St Park, Leyland Park, Abram Park, Pennington Hall Park, Ashfield Park, Shevington Park, Astley St Park, Alexandra Park, Firs Park and Westleigh Park.

But some felt that responsible dog owners were being targeted, and that some families with pets would want to take their dog into parks.

Almost all respondents felt that all dog walkers should carry poo bags, and that dog fouling enforcement should cover all public land.

Other proposals that were backed include keeping dogs on leads in churchyards and cemeteries and if found to be out of control on public land.

A response to the survey said: “I think dogs need to be on leads at all times. I have had two dogs one was attacked and killed by a bullmastiff

“The owner was nowhere in sight this was a very traumatic experience and put me off having a dog for a long time.”

More than half – 247 – of the consultees did not own a dog. The majority of responses came from women, with the most prominent age group being 35 to 44.

The consultation was ordered in March after a report by Wigan council’s director for environment, Paul Barton, said some owners were posing a health and safety risk to the wider community.

“Whilst the majority of dog owners in the borough are responsible, there is still a substantial nuisance that can be caused by a small minority of individuals,” he said.

“Failing to pick up dog foul is the most socially unacceptable and dangerous category of litter left in our public spaces.

“Whilst rare, contact with dog excrement can cause toxocariasis which can lead to dizziness, nausea, asthma and even blindness or seizures.”

The confident places scrutiny committee will consider the findings on November 13.