At first glance, a council proposal to make sure owners keep their dogs on leads in parts of Lydiard Park for half of the year, and another to limit the number of premises selling alcohol in Broad Green, have no obvious connection.
What they have in common is their aim – the introduction of new regulations to protect the interests of the majority of residents. It’s an important role for the council, but it’s equally important we know the views of those who will be affected, hence the consultations that are currently live, including on our website.
The intention behind the proposal at Lydiard Park is to make sure the majority of people who enjoy being outside in summer on the lawns near the house and in the barbecue area, for instance, can be free from the nuisance posed by boisterous and over-excited dogs. It’s one of the great clichés that dogs steal sausages but they really do, and if you’re having a picnic or barbecue at the time it isn’t funny. There have been other occasions where dogs have got into fights with each other, or friction has been caused between visitors.
It all risks spoiling most people’s enjoyment of the park, which is why we’re consulting on introducing a Public Space Protection Order, or PSPO, to require owners to keep their dogs on a lead in the designated areas in the months when the weather is most likely to be warm. I stress that most of the park will be unaffected for all of the year and those many people who enjoy walking their dogs off leads in the park will not be inconvenienced.
When it comes to Broad Green, the problem is essentially the same – the quality of life for the majority of people is not helped at all by the minority, in this case people who want to open yet another place to sell alcohol in the area. The councillors on the Licensing Committee heard evidence from the police and health professionals among others that it was causing harm on issues ranging from public health to public order.
The plan is to go from a presumption that an alcohol licence will be granted unless good reasons are presented as to why not, to a presumption that a licence won’t be forthcoming unless the applicant can show it won’t be harmful. It is an important distinction. This idea will only apply to new applicants – existing businesses would not be affected and there are exemptions, such as for restaurants that serve alcohol with a meal.
I support both proposals, because they will help support two of our four Priorities: To ensure clean and safe streets and improve our public spaces and culture, and help people help themselves while protecting our most vulnerable children and adults.