Thousands oppose beach and parks dog ban in Wirral and Halton

Thousands of Wirral dog owners have signed a petition against banning dogs from parks and beaches with fines for owners who do not have a dog poo-bag.

Wirral Council's Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) would authorise spot checks on people seen not picking up dog mess.

Dogs are already excluded from some public spaces in Wirral including children's playgrounds.

Halton Council also wants to introduce similar orders.

The proposed Wirral PSPO would ban dogs from bathing beaches from 1 May to 30 September and also from line-marked sports pitches in the football season.

Image caption Mili's owner says it will be difficult to stop her running into banned spaces

Dog walker Rob Wilkson, who takes Mili his Hungarian Vizsla to Irby Park, said he faced a £100 fine if his dog is spotted on a marked-up football pitch.

"When I bring her on this park, she has to be let off her lead; she won't know where the white line is," he protested.

Wirral Council said any person spotted not bagging dog faeces would be asked if they have bags to collect the mess: "If the person does not provide any bags they will be committing an offence."

The new rules also limit the maximum number of dogs that can be walked by a single person to six - on or off the lead.

Responding to the dog owners' petition, cabinet member for the environment, Mathew Patrick, said: "I cannot stress strongly enough that this is a genuine consultation."

But Conservative councillor Ian Lewis said: "Most of the dog fouling complaints we receive as councillors are about mess that has been left on the pavements and grass verges - the PSPO won't change that."

Halton Council had already introduced Dog Control Orders to tackle dog fouling in 2010, but thinks stricter measures are needed to deal with anti-social behaviour caused by irresponsible dog owners.

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