A petition with more than 2,000 signatures calling on Richmond Council to rethink dog walking restrictions has been defeated in a near unanimous vote.

The council launched a consultation in March to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which included a proposed reduction of the number of dogs allowed to be walked from six to four.

Fifty nine per cent of respondents disagreed with the proposal, and a separate online petition opposing it got nearly 2,000 signatures.

Along with this, nearly 200 people joined a peaceful protest in Twickenham on September 10.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: The rally 

However, when the petition was debated at the Full Council meeting on September 12, all but one of the councillors accepted the PSPO motion.

Dog owner Caroline Summers, who started the petition, said a PSPO was supposed to address issues that have a “detrimental effect” on people in the borough, but that there was “insufficient evidence” this was the case.

She added: “In fact, there has been evidence that the proposals themselves will have a detrimental effect in the borough.”

Ms Summers accused the council of “ignoring” the 59 per cent majority and, after making a Freedom of Information request, found that in seven years only four complaints had been lodged about too many dogs being walked.

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

During the meeting, Councillor Pamela Fleming, Richmond Council cabinet member for environment, Business and Community, motioned to raise the number to 18, which was accepted.

Those opposing the restrictions are concerned many dog walking businesses “will be adversely affected”, facing closure or income slashes of a third.

However, Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside Cllr Penelope Frost said she, and other councillors, had received a “significant stream of emails from local residents” who were very concerned about the increase in the number of dogs in the borough.

She said she hoped those people would “not be drowned out by an efficient social media campaign”.

Both petitions combined received about 4,000 signatures in total.

Resident and professional dog walker of eight years, Brodie Ellis, said: “We are obviously disappointed with the outcome but we are also disappointed with certain procedural aspects of the meeting.

“The petition presented by Caroline Summers was supposed to trigger a 15 minute debate but unfortunately the majority of that time was taken up by Councillors Fleming, Frost and Tippett making long and emotive statements which did not address the issues raised in the petition.

“We would like to thank Councillor Churchill for her effort in trying to focus discussion back on the petition but unfortunately after the others had spoken she was only left with 90 seconds to speak.”

Cllr Fleming said: “Over the last few years we have seen a rise in the number of complaints we have received about dogs not being under control in our parks.

“People have told us they feel intimidated when they see ‘packs’ of dogs being walked, sometimes by multiple dog walkers at the same time.

“Over the next few weeks we will work up the criteria for the licences and the review and liaise with vets around the borough to find out how many of our residents own more than four dogs.”