Controversial new dog controls planned for part of Chichester Harbour are being relaxed by district councillors.
The council had proposed a dog control order in the Fishbourne Channel area requiring that dogs should be kept on leads at all times.
This provoked strong local protests, and now the district’s executive board has agreed to start consultation on a ‘dogs on leads by direction’ order instead.
It means people could walk their dogs off the lead unless directed by a warden to put them on one. This would be expected to happen if a dog was seen to be out of control.
Dog controls are being planned to satisfy demands from Natural England, concerned about growing recreational pressure on the harbour area and its wildlife as a result of new housing schemes.
The district council has already agreed to a ‘mitigation package’ designed to overcome Natural England’s objection to the Graylingwell development.
In a letter to the council, harbour conservancy chairman Louise Goldsmith said the alternative order now proposed would avoid penalising well-behaved and well-controlled dogs and focus on dogs and their owners causing the greatest disturbance.
The board agreed that if representations were received during the consultation process, the matter would be considered again. If there are no representations, the district solicitor was authorised to make the order.
Health portfolio holder Cllr Heather Caird said the community was very concerned about the proposal to put all dogs on leads as a blanket policy.
A more appropriate method was now proposed. “If a dog is running out of control and seen by the warden, the warden will require the owner to put it on the lead,” she explained.
Fishbourne representative Cllr Adrian Moss said this was a much more acceptable solution, which would gain support from local residents.
“I am totally supportive of this,” he added. There was also potential for reducing the number of footpaths covered by the order.
“The only way to make this work is to have the residents on board,” he told the board.