South Hams District Council (SHDC) has hastily withdrawn a proposal requiring dog owners to have their pets on a lead in two Totnes beauty spots after councillors decided the policy would not enjoy the community’s support.

The proposal to recategorise a path between Swallowfields and Vire Island was billed as part of a review of SHDC’s Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), which gives the council broad powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in public areas, including fining irresponsible dog owners up to £100.

PSPOs last for three years before they need to be reviewed, and as the current orders run out in March next year, SHDC wants the public’s views on the next set for the following three-year period.

The current review will affect all existing PSPOs within the district, such as keeping dogs on leads in certain areas. In children’s playgrounds, bowling greens and tennis courts, dogs are banned altogether. In addition, dogs have limited access on beaches out of season or at certain times of the day.

However, within days of the announcement, SHDC decided to scrap the move that would have required dog owners to keep their pets on a lead in the beauty spots.

Speaking to this paper, Totnes Cllr John Birch said the proposal “did not meet criteria” following consultation with fellow councillors, Anna Presswell and Georgina Allen.

“We agreed it wasn’t appropriate - there’s no call for it. The proposal would not have met with community support,” he said.

Cllr Denise O'Callaghan, SHDC’s executive member for housing and environmental health, said last week that it was important to have as many people as possible give their views on dog control in their area.

“We all need to live together, so these Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) can help us to do that in harmony with everyone, whether a dog lover or not,” she said.

Residents can share their views online at or by post to: Environmental Protection Team, South Hams District Council, Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Devon, TQ9 5NE.

The consultation runs until November 14.