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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeHarrow CouncilNew rules proposed for dog walkers in Harrow nature reserve

New rules proposed for dog walkers in Harrow nature reserve

Harrow Council has tabled a new set of rules for dog walkers in a popular nature reserve after an initial plan to ban dogs off leads entirely received a backlash.

A subsequent review has led to a rowing back of the proposals, meaning restrictions would only apply in specific areas and at certain times of the year.

Harrow Council first proposed a blanket ban on dogs off leads in the roughly 250-acre Bentley Priory Nature Reserve as part of a new borough-wide Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) – a piece of legislation that helps councils deal with antisocial behaviour in specific areas. The local authority ordered a review into this aspect of the PSPO after residents complained it was ‘unjustified and disproportionate’.

Following a further public consultation, the council has proposed more targeted restrictions on dog walkers in Bentley Priory to make them more proportionate, whilst also addressing concerns about growing issues with ‘nuisance behaviour’ in the popular local beauty spot. Failing to comply with the rules is a criminal offence meaning dog walkers could face fines of £100.

The changes to the PSPO would mean dogs must be kept on leads at all times in the area known as Deer Path Corridor – which forms part of the 2.9km circular walk – and in Spring Meadow from April 1 to July 31. Dogs would also be banned from going in any of the nature reserve’s ponds or watercourses.

The measures were initially designed ‘to ensure that visitors and wildlife are protected’, as nuisance behaviour has been on the rise in recent years at the nature reserve – a designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

More than 2,000 residents responded to the public consultation, with a small majority of respondents (1,150 vs 897) in support of the original proposal to ban dogs off leads throughout the whole of Bentley Priory. However, a large majority of people preferred there to be specific dog control measures in certain areas.

Only allowing dogs on leads in Spring Meadow during certain times of the year was supported by 1,235 respondents, compared to 641 against. Whilst keeping dogs out of the ponds (1,168 vs 602) and banning dogs off leads along Deer Path (1,191 vs 603) also received overwhelming support.

A report by the Portfolio Holder for Community and Culture, Cllr Janet Mote, said: “The proposed PSPO is expected to have a positive impact on the environment and the peaceful enjoyment of open spaces by putting in place additional controls around the behaviour of […] dogs in certain areas of Bentley Priory.”

It adds: “The purpose of introducing controls is to respond to concerns raised by members of the public regarding […] the behaviour of some loose dogs around people and animals at Bentley Priory. The PSPO will address issues [of] nuisance behaviour in this area of special scientific interest and nature reserve […].”

A decision on whether to move ahead with the amended proposals will be reviewed at a meeting of the Harrow Council Cabinet next week (May 21).