Dog walkers in Chapel St Leonards warned ‘Don’t make me fine you’

Promising tough action...Patrick Naughton, vice-chairman of Chapel St Leonards Parish Council, and Mel Turton-Leivers chairman of the council.
Promising tough action...Patrick Naughton, vice-chairman of Chapel St Leonards Parish Council, and Mel Turton-Leivers chairman of the council.

“Please don’t make me fine you.”

This is the plea from a community warden in Chapel St Leonards who has been told to ditch his ‘softly softly’ approach to those who continually flout the law.

According to the warden, Alex Stewart, elderly dog walkers and children on a stretch of the sea defence wall have been pushed and scratched by animals running loose - and now the parish council says it has to stop.

A warden was appointed at the end of 2013 and in November last year legal orders were put in place to empower him to issue fixed penalties to anyone who disobeyed them.

However, until now verbal warnings have been given rather than issuing a fine.

Mr Stewart said: “I’ve built up a good relationship with many dog walkers but some are taking advantage.

“We are not asking the Earth, just that they keep their dogs on a lead along the sea defence wall.

“Elderly people tend to pick their pets up when they see others running loose and that makes dogs jump up them.

“We’ve had incidents where elderly people have been scratched and children have been hurt.

“I just want to ask all dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead. Please don’t put me in the position where I have to fine you.”

Chapel St Leonards Parish Council has three orders in place relating to dogs. Owners are required to keep dogs on a lead at all times along the sea defence wall (otherwise known as the promenade), put their dog on a lead elsewhere if the community warden feels that it is not under proper control, and to clean up after their dog in any open space within the parish.

The community warden also has the power to enforce the dog exclusion zones established by East Lindsey District Council, these being a central part of the beach during the summer season and the village’s recreation field throughout the year, and to issue penalty notices for littering, graffiti and flyposting.

Each offence will result in the issue of a fixed penalty notice requiring the offender to pay £75. Those failing to do so, or those who regularly breach the orders, may be prosecuted in a magistrates’ court.

The orders may be viewed on the council’s website or in the parish council office during weekday opening hours.

Income received from fines will be used to further measures to reduce anti-social behaviour.

Coun Patrick Naughton, vice-chairman of the parish council and chairman of the environment and amenities committee, said: “We are trying to make Chapel St Leonards an even better place in which to live or to visit, and the orders were introduced to give us the teeth to achieve this if we needed to.

“Unfortunately, there is a small group of people who continue to flout the rules on a regular basis and risk spoiling it for everyone. The committee has now decided that enough is enough and the community warden’s power of discretion has therefore been very much reduced.”