A CLAMPDOWN zone to crack down on bad behaviour is being investigated in Stockton ahead of another town centre overhaul.

Councillors are examining whether a “public space protection order” should be rolled out in the borough to improve efforts to protect the vulnerable and stamp out disorder.

And the latest crime and disorder select committee heard how tighter dog controls could be used ahead of efforts to create an urban “riverside park” on Stockton High Street. 

PSPOs are used by councils to tackle trouble and specific repeated problems in certain areas with fines. 

Environment officer Stephen Donaghy told members there were no dog control orders in place across Stockton at the moment with voluntary schemes in parks and green spaces. 

Ropner Park, Preston Park and the borough’s crematorium and cemeteries were flagged up as areas hit by irresponsible dog owners. 

Mr Donaghy said the council didn’t receive a large number of complaints about out of control dogs on Stockton High Street. 

But he believed controls merited a mention given plans to knock down the Castlegate shopping centre to create a sprawling green park. 

“We’re looking at a massive regeneration of the High Street with an urban park – it’s going to be much more attractive to people and I can only conclude individuals will want to bring dogs into that area,” he added. 

“I think you should consider that, how we should control that and ensure there is responsible dog ownership and behaviour there.”

Stockton Riverside Park vision Picture: RYDER ARCHITECTURE/STOCKTON COUNCIL

Stockton Riverside Park vision Picture: RYDER ARCHITECTURE/STOCKTON COUNCIL

PSPOs can limit the number of dogs people can walk at any one time, and allow officers to ask that canines be put on a lead. 

The dog fouling on land act gives the council the power to fine owners for not picking up after pets. 

But councillors were told officials had limited powers over the control of dogs when people didn’t want to follow voluntary advice. 

Neighbouring Middlesbrough has a PSPO zone in TS1 – with penalties of up to £1,000 for breaches including spitting, bin rummaging, and begging.

Between April 2020 and February this year, there were 70 fines issued for breaking the rules in the town and more than 700 warnings offered. 

The policy has received backing from public surveys – but it came under fire from civil liberties campaign group Liberty in 2019 who labelled it “cruel and perverse”. 

Committee members in Stockton are weighing up whether the borough would benefit from a similar zone.

A past presentation listed how anti-social behaviour cases were falling across Stockton – with the borough having the lowest recorded crime rate in the Tees Valley.  

However, Stockton town centre accounts for more than one in five of all calls to the council’s enforcement team – with “aggressive begging” bringing the highest demand followed by fly tipping, and dealing with drunk adults. 

Cleveland Police will offer up more evidence to the ongoing review next month.