Due to the ongoing adverse impact of Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) for dogs and owners, The Kennel Club is supporting a call to review and reform the system which restricts and controls public spaces.
The organisation is backing a petition which highlights the often inadequate public consultations held by local authorities, the limited opportunity that local residents have to challenge any Orders and the corresponding negative impact of PSPOs on dogs and their owners – and ultimately is seeking a government review and reform of the process.
PSPOs are legislative tools used and enforced by local authorities across England and Wales that are designed to deal with a problem in a specific area which is ‘detrimental to the local community’s quality of life’. Due to lack of consultation and consideration of both impact and intended outcome, PSPOs can be highly restrictive in nature and prevent dog walkers from accessing public spaces, such as local beaches or playing fields, during certain times of day or year, amongst other restrictions.
Currently, PSPOs can only be appealed at the High Court by those who live, work or regularly visit in the area within six weeks of their issue. Further appeals are only permitted each time the PSPO is varied by the council (i.e. the wording is changed in some way). Statutory appeals are not within the scope of legal aid, meaning that any private citizens seeking to challenge the legality of the PSPOs must pay the costs of any legal proceedings themselves.
Holly Conway, Head of Public Affairs at The Kennel Club, said: “We believe that dog owners and other local community members are being denied the right to fairly appeal and challenge PSPOs. The Kennel Club is one of the only organisations explicitly named by the Government for local authorities to consult with prior to the consultation and implementation; however, many do not always clearly advertise their public consultation, with some getting few or no responses at all. Without public engagement during the consultation period, measures implemented can be disproportionate, unsubstantiated, and highly restrictive for dog owners and other members of the local community.
“As the organisation behind one of the country’s largest PSPO databases, we are highly supportive of this petition and join campaigners in strongly urging a governmental review into the system. By extending the public’s ability to appeal an Order to three months without the need for a legal challenge, further rights will be granted to dog walkers and other local residents to push back against often unfair restrictions. The current process to legally appeal a PSPO is both extortionate and burdensome for private citizens – it would be impossible for almost any dog owner impacted to spare the time or afford the sky-high costs to challenge any measures in the High Court.
“We hope to see dog control measures which are minimally restrictive and designed to achieve a defined and measurable outcome – as was the Government’s intention when they were introduced. We urge all dog owners to sign the petition and make sure that their voices are heard to prevent the continued unfair implementation and inadequate consideration of the impact of PSPOs.”
The petition, which currently has over 1,000 signatures, can be viewed and signed here: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552758.
The Kennel Club consults and engages with local authorities to ensure that any dog control measures pursued are proportionate and evidence-based, and maintains one of the largest national databases of all existing PSPOs. Advice is available for dog owners facing restrictions in their local area here: www.kcdog.org.uk.