Nearly 200 dog owners and dog walkers joined a peaceful protest in Twickenham Green yesterday (September 10) to oppose the council’s proposed dog walking restrictions.

Richmond Council launched a consultation in March to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).

This is new measure which replaces existing legislation and introduces wider discretionary powers to deal with any particular nuisance or problem that is detrimental to the local community’s quality of life.

Penalties include an on the spot fine of £100 or up to £1,000 if it goes to court.

The element of the proposals concerning many residents is one that reduces the number of dogs someone can walk from six to four.

Residents are concerned many dog walking businesses face closure or their income being slashed by a third if the proposals are approved.

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According to the council the move is down to the “rise in the number of multiple dog walkers using Richmond’s public spaces” in recent years.

It states on the consultation: “The impacts of this are problems that mainly stem from a lack of ability to control several dogs at once or from very large groups of dogs where two or more dog walkers walk together.”

However, when the consultation was launched, a petition was carried out by residents opposing the move which now has nearly 2,000 signatures.

Another petition, in paper form, submitted local dog owner Caroline Summers got more than 2,000 signatures. 

On top of this, 59 per cent of respondents to the consultation disagreed with the council limiting the number of dogs which could be walked.

Despite this the council did not amend the proposals.

Ms Summers said there were “no reasonable grounds” to limit the number of dogs, because a Freedom of Information request showed just four complaints relating to a person having five or six dogs since 2010.

A 12 month pilot scheme is being proposed to license up to 15 people who will be exempted from this restriction but there are at least 75 dog walkers who need a licence.

Lucy Bonnett, a local dog trainer and dog walker who started the orginal petition, said: “Local dog owners will be adversely impacted as they will not be able to secure a good professional dog walker and prices would increase dramatically.”

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “While the Kennel Club can support reasonable PSPOs and is happy to help work with councils and advise on dog issues to try and ensure responsible dog ownership, we are very concerned about how restrictive Richmond’s PSPOs are.”

The council is due to debate the proposed changes on Tuesday, September 12.