Hackney Council called to heel over dog control orders

�Hackney Council’s bid to introduce powers to curb irresponsible dog owners has been branded a farce by a pet owner.

Council chiefs have denied ever having creating orders to control canines, despite erecting signs around the borough announcing their introduction.

Many dog owners were angry last summer when the council announced its intention to bring in the legislation, fearing the responsible dog owners would be penalised instead of tackling the small antisocial minority.

The council, spurred on by concern from residents and park users over dogs off their leads, aggressive animals and dogs in children’s play areas, approved three dog control orders at a cabinet meeting on February 27.

Ex-councillor and dog owner Chris O’Leary questioned the validity of the dog orders last month, after it emerged a “wrongly-worded” order was passed by mistake.

He realised the anomaly when signs went up along the Regent’s Canal towpath where he walks his retriever Cassie.

Instead of the motion, which was consulted on, that dogs should be “on a lead at all times,” on towpaths, it was approved that dogs should be “on a lead when requested.”

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Orders should have come into force on April 1 but the order was amended at a cabinet meeting on April 23 to read dogs on a towpath should be on a lead “at all times” – however the order still also contradictorily read that dogs should be on a lead “when requested”.

Mr O’Leary threatened to apply for judicial review of the cabinet’s decision, but Stephen Rix, the council’s head of litigation, told him the council had not created any dog control orders - despite the signs which indicate the contrary.

Mr Rix also denied the orders were unclear, contradictory and confusing.

Mr O’Leary said to describe the saga as a “farce would be being polite”.

“The council has made a catalogue of mistakes here, and is still unprepared to apologise to responsible dog owners and council taxpayers,” he said.

“Thankfully, on this occasion, they got caught out.”

The council will remove the signs and consult on the orders for a second time.

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