Rye Town Council will shortly be asked whether existing controls on anti-social behaviour – by dogs as well as human beings – should be increased. Humans do not have to be on leads, but dogs do – in certain places – and should this, for example, be extended to cover more of Rye?
Dogs can be fun (as the annual Rye Show Grand National, pictured above, shows) but they can also be messy and become a nuisance. But so can humans, as the law recognises.
Anti-social behaviour includes drinking in public (like events such as the Jazz Festival or Bonfire Night) – and should there be more areas where it is banned – like, perhaps, the whole of the conservation area in Rye, except for pubs and restaurants within that area? Drinking in the Gun Garden, for example, has been raised as an issue at council meetings.
Anti-social behaviour also includes noise, and perhaps over-loud noise from gardens (whether they are private or commercial premises) should be banned – whether it is a concert, a play or a rock band?
The council has to consider these changes because of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act of 2014 (now being introduced in detail) and in particular the repeal of existing Dog Control Orders in October next year as a consequence of that new legislation.
These changes will mean Rother District Council (RDC) will shortly have to consult local town and parish councils about these controls.
The controls on dog fouling include all public spaces, including cemeteries, car parks, parking spaces, beaches and dunes, and dogs already have to be kept on a lead in particular places, including the cemetery and St Mary’s churchyard.
Dogs can also be excluded all year from certain areas – in Rye’s case the cemetery and the Gun Garden already – and these can include bowling greens, children’s play areas, school playing fields and ornamental planting areas. The existing definition of what places are covered also includes land owned by housing associations and might include Valley Park where the surrounding land is part owned by a housing association (as the land belongs to the residents, not the public) and many people walk their dogs there.
Dogs can also be excluded now for part of the year from Camber sands and dunes and parts of the seashore at Pett Level and Winchelsea Beach. Other local parish councils will have to consider whether this should be for a longer or a shorter period.
Dogs may also be banned from some commercial premises by the owners (but this normally excludes guide dogs) and at least one Rye pub sometimes has more dogs than people in its bar at certain times of the day.
Dog Control Orders (DCOs) often operate alongside Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) which are already available (if needed) and can cover bans on alcohol, amplified music, busking, swearing or even eating in the street in certain places which might, for example, include Market Street, or Strand Quay, or the Landgate – or any area which seemed particularly troublesome, or open to abuse. And previous legislation allows for orders to be applied to specific individuals if necessary, and can be introduced by magistrates in those cases.
PSPOs can be made under the current definition if activities are likely to be carried out in a public space which affect the quality of life of those in the locality, are persistent and unreasonable and the restriction can be justified – and Rother District Council is required to consult Rye Town Council on what may be necessary. Similar consultation is required in relation to Dog Control Orders.
PSPOs are unlikely to be used in relation to annual events like the jazz festival, or outdoor concerts, or bonfire night which are not ongoing all year – though bell ringing might be held to be persistent. Dogs however are persistent, and the council may need to consider whether dogs should be banned from more areas, or for longer periods, or be required to be on a lead in more places.
Charles Harkness is a Rye Town Councillor
Photo: Rye news library