A COUNCIL which sparked consternation with a proposal to ban people from walking more than four dogs at once has revealed a revised series of measures to tackle antisocial behaviour by dog owners.

Darlington Borough Council’s community safety portfolio holder Councillor Jonathan Dulston said the authority had refined the wider powers it was introducing over the walking of dogs and would launch a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) after listening to and working with residents and dog walking firms.

A meeting of the authority’s cabinet next week will consider granting powers to the council to issue fines to people for failing to pick up dog faeces; not keeping a dog on a lead in certain areas; not putting dogs on a lead when directed by an officer for the council; allowing a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded; or allowing a dog to be off a lead in East, North and West cemeteries.

The council says the changes would make for improved dog control and responsible dog ownership in Darlington as well as improving the quality of life of people visiting and working in areas covered by the order.

Cllr Dulston said it had become clear during one of the most successful consultations the council had run, in which it received a record number of responses, that proposals to limit the number of dogs being walked was not the way forward.

He said: “This council is committed to listening to people. I am pleased there will be no restriction on the number of dogs being walked. I am confident we have struck the right balance in terms of protecting the public and allowing people to walk their dogs.

“I would hope people will see a step change in standards in the town centre and across the borough.”

Cllr Dulston added the council was aware of continuing concerns over the launch of the PSPO, but sought to reassure people that the council would seek to educate those committing breaches before seeking to issue fines.

The leader of the council’s Labour opposition group, Councillor Stephen Harker, said the authority should have spoken to dog walking firms before attempting to tackle a complex issue. He said: “They could have saved themselves an awful lot of time and grief and not have created worries for many businesses that they would become unsustainable or have to put up their prices.”