Scrubs Friends' 'Frustration' over Council's New Rules for Dog Walkers

Chair says 'absolutely none' of their suggestions have been taken into account

Scrubs Friends' 'Frustration' over Council's New Rules for Dog Walkers
Wormwood Scrubs

August 14, 2023

Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, Chair of the Friends of Wormwood Scrubs has issued an angry response to Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s new Responsible Dog Ownership protector order, saying the council has ignored all their suggestions over rules for dog walkers.

The Public Spaces Protection Order, or PSPO, is now in force, with signs outlining the new restrictions installed at the gates of parks and green spaces across the borough.

These follow a public consultation held last year and H&F Council claims the order is led by resident feedback and is set to significantly improve community safety, for example by introducing a new four-dogs-at-a-time limit for dog walkers.

Cllr Rebecca Harvey, H&F Cabinet Member for Social inclusion & Community Safety, said: “While many dog owners are responsible, the majority of residents came to us, saying that they didn’t feel safe – so we acted.

“We thank everyone who shared their views, and for helping us make our borough safer, cleaner and enjoyable for all.”

However, in a letter to colleagues published on Friends of the Scrubs website,, Sir Stephen says that absolutely none of their suggestions and proposals have been taken into any account in the final version.

As this map shows, with red areas meaning no dogs, and orange meaning dogs must be on leads, dogs are no longer allowed in the woods nearest the Braybrook Street Playground, or the Playground itself, or in the Linford Christie Stadium (LCS). And dogs have to be on leads in the central copse and the woods fairly near the Braybrook Street Playground.

Sir Stephen says: “ We said in our response to the consultation that it was a mistake to ban dogs from LCS (requiring leads makes good sense there), particularly with the possibility of Thames Valley Harriers making the Clubhouse an improved café with lavatories, both open to all; we said that it was a mistake to require dogs to be on leads in the central copse, with the explanation offered that there was forest school activity there, which has (a) never been discussed/approved by the Wormwood Scrubs Charitable Trust Committee and (b) if it happens, is so rare that none of your Trustees have ever seen it happening. We suggested that this restriction should be limited to ‘while Forest School activities were taking place’.

“ Signs are now to go up explaining the PSPO, and the Law Enforcement Team (LET) are beginning their ‘advisory’ period before starting to enforce the rules."

Map of Wormwood Scrubs
Map of Wormwood Scrubs

Sir Stephen says that for the Friends, perhaps the most important rule is the limit of four dogs per professional dog walker.

However, he adds: “ Sadly our suggested restriction has also not been implemented, which was that professional dog walkers should not be allowed to get together to create ‘packs of dogs’ which can be intimidating to even the keenest dog lovers, but should be limited to a maximum of two humans with a maximum of eight dogs.

“ We remain unconvinced that there is sufficient LET presence to enforce any of the rules, old or new, about where dogs are permitted, picking up after dogs (and not leaving full bags on the ground) or the number of dogs with each human.

“Alongside our frustration that our suggestions were totally ignored or disregarded, we worry that with LET likely to be unable to enforce the rules or catch the law-breakers, and that some rules - such as the one about dogs having to be on leads in an area where there isn’t even a forest school in place - are likely to be flouted daily out of sheer pique, will have the result that all rules are brought into disrepute.

“Meanwhile, we see no prospect of a reduction in, or better control of, the packs of dogs with ‘professional’ dog-walkers which we know discourage so many people from enjoying and benefiting from the Scrubs.”

H&F Council says that it is helping to address safety concerns by designating new “dog free” zones in parks and open spaces across the borough, including playgrounds, fenced picnic areas and war memorials.

In other areas, dogs must now be on leads to help nature thrive, significantly in wildlife conservation areas, forest schools, cemeteries and churchyards as well as outdoor gyms and cafes and tea houses.

Dog owners must also clear up any dog poo and be able to produce a scoop or disposable bags when asked by LET officers. Those who fail to comply can be fined.

The council has produced a new page dedicated to the PSPO with the rules explained in detail and maps showing restrictions both boroughwide and in individual parks, including Cathnor, Hammersmith and Wendell Parks and Shepherd’s Bush Green.

Find out more here.

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