Select Committee on Committee on the London Local Authorities Bill Minutes of Evidence


Evidence before the Committee (Questions 560-579)

WEDNESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 2003

560.  MR BLUNT: Why not?

561.  MR CLARKSON: If that was right the subsection would say any costs incurred or expected to be incurred in connection with the administration of the provision. It is reasonable cost. In that event the costs would be unreasonable and it would be wholly wrong to require an individual to pay however much it would be, the full cost. It will have to be a reasonable cost and the rest would have to be met by the council tax payer.

562.  MR BLUNT: I have to say, forgive me, but I do not agree. A reasonable cost incurred by the administration is presumably the costs incurred by the local authority in setting up the regime to create and enforce this. Surely it would be perfectly reasonable for the local authority to charge whatever costs there are associated with the time required in nominating the areas, of the dog wardens assessing people, of the administration, of the paperwork in handing out the licences and the rest.

563.  MR CLARKSON: It would not be perfectly reasonable to burden one individual with that, that is how I would put it.

564.  MR BLUNT: The issue I am getting at is that there is no control as far as an individual is concerned and would it not perhaps be better to put on the face of the legislation a limit as far as any fees and costs are concerned so that they would be seen as reasonable even though obviously in the instance you are suggesting Wandsworth councillors would not wish to make a charge to Wandsworth residents. Presumably it would be better that there was some limit. You were talking about a range of £20 to £40. Would you be content if the Committee felt that a limit should appear on the face of the Bill?

(Mr Stratton) I would personally be more than happy with that.

565.  MR CLARKSON: Can I take instructions on that? I do not know what my instructions are, but I hope that there would have to be inflation built in.

566.  CHAIRMAN: I think what he is suggesting is a very useful safeguard, but what Mr Clarkson has said could be prayed in aid if somebody wished to challenge the reasonableness of the fee. So the commitment that Mr Clarkson has given, whilst not absolutely certain, would be a powerful argument in favour of the reasonable fee, as he has indicated.

567.  MR CLARKSON: It would not be absolute and I think, to be fair, it would be untidy if an individual had to use what was said here in a Magistrates' Court or the High Court to say it was unreasonable. I think if it is going to be dealt with it should be grasped. I will take instructions on that.

568.  JOHN ROBERTSON: How many attacks have there been on people in your parks?

(Mr Stratton) We have had a fair number of dogs injured and as a result of somebody trying to park their dogs individuals have been injured too. I should think perhaps it has been ten dogs over the last couple of years.

569.  What about humans?

(Mr Stratton) I would say the total at the moment is four in the last couple of years.

570.  MR BLUNT: As a result of multiple dog-walking?

(Mr Stratton) Yes, as a result of dog-walkers.

571.  I think the important issue here is that they would be people who have had five or more dogs under their control at the time and people have been injured.

(Mr Stratton) Correct.

572.  Is it possible to produce evidence for that?

(Mr Stratton) I can certainly go through our files and try to identify it, but people will normally complain either verbally or through the Metropolitan Police to the Council.

573.  JOHN ROBERTSON: Could you also identify whether the people attacked were dog-walkers or whether they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

(Mr Stratton) I am sure they were dog-walkers, but I will try and do that.

Re-examined by MR CLARKSON

574.  MR CLARKSON: Could I just ask a couple of questions in re-examination as a result of Mr Mundy's questions. First, the Battersea Society and Friends of Battersea, do you have any understanding that they are in competent to refuse to write a letter of support?

(Mr Stratton) None at all.

575.  Second, by-laws, could they do the job?

(Mr Stratton) If this fails we will go down the by-law route, but that will not help the boroughs on one side or the other. The by-law itself would have to be much harsher than this and it would be based on the similar by-law that was introduced by Putney Commons.

576.  You say it would be much harsher. Would it be permissive or restrictive?

(Mr Stratton) It would be very restrictive on individuals.

577.  Is it possible to apply conditions in a by-law?

(Mr Stratton) Not in the same way as conditions have been applied here.

578.  The conditions you were cross-examined about, the form of them, are they exclusive? Subsection (2), the conditions of consent referred to in subsection (1) above include other conditions which could be applied if thought appropriate.

(Mr Stratton) Well, (2)(e) gives conditions as to the numbers of dogs and (g) is conditions relating to. There are conditions within "relating to" that I would wish to see included, such as multiple dog-walkers will not join together and create packs.

579.  This clause of the Bill is promoted by all the London boroughs with the London Borough of Wandsworth giving evidence.

(Mr Stratton) That is correct.


 
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