Dog walkers back tough new rules - but call for more forest bins (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Epping Forest District Council releases results of two-month consultation into planned Dog Control Orders (DCOs)
DOG walkers could soon find themselves in court if their wayward pooches foul in the forest.
The district council has this week published the results of a two-month consultation into planned Dog Control Orders (DCOs).
The restrictions would make it an offence to fail to clean up dog mess on all public land across the district - including Epping Forest, which is owned by the City of London Corporation.
Authorised officers would also be given power to demand dogs be put on leads and to stop people walking more than four at once.
Anyone abusing the orders could be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £1,000, or a fixed penalty notice of £75.
The majority of the 152 people who responded to the consultation backed the plans and - if councillors agree at a meeting on December 3 - the orders could be in force by the end of the year.
But the council also received a number of comments criticising the shortage of bins and questioning whether or not 'wild' public land should be included.
Fiona Daniels, 49, of Brookfield, Thornwood, is owner of boxer Tiffany and campaigned to have a dog bin erected in Duck Lane.
"I think it's good because there are dog owners that are taking advantage," she said.
"But I think in the forest it's a bit excessive. I'm a rider and I don't have dog poo in my horse's hooves.
"But in town I think it's a must, where children go."
Michele Davies, 65, who owns collie Fleck, responded to the consultation.
She said she backed the plans, but felt more should be done to help dog owners abide by the new rules.
"There's not enough dog bins in Epping Forest," said Mrs Davies, of Cascade Road, Buckhurst Hill.
"I'm fanatical about cleaning up dog poo. But if your dog does it in the forest, you're not going to carry it for two hours."
Deborah Hall, 56, manager of Chigwell Riding Trust, welcomed the keep dog numbers restricted.
She said: "We have had occasions when dogs have actually nipped the horses' heels which can be quite scary for them, and a lot of the children have phobias of dogs."
But she said most owners put their dogs on leads when they saw her group riding in Roding Valley Meadows.
"It really had become a real worry over there. But there a huge, huge improvement and I'm so delighted."
Of 152 respondents to the Dog Control Order consultation:
• 80% support making it an offence to fail to pick up dog faeces on any public land
• 88% agree with allowing an authorised officer to request a dog be put on a lead.
• 74% agree with restricting the number of dogs a person can have in their control to four.
• 58% who did not agree with the restriction to four said there should be a restriction.
• 85% who thought that there should be some restriction, but not four, said that this should be fewer than four.
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