COUNCILLORS quizzed directors after controversial plans emerged to charge commercial dog-walkers to exercise their client’s dogs on council-owned land.

Proposals to license dog walkers, which were outlined in a report published before Christmas, have divided Bracknell's dog-walking community.

Councillor Robert Angell said: “It is something that affects so many people potentially.

“This subject has received a lot of media publicity and we need to give it a poke and a prod.

“You see people walking around with three or four dogs and they are their own. How do we police that?”

Andrew Hunter, Director of Place, Planning and Regeneration at Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) told councillors that the authority is consulting with commercial dog-walkers in the borough to work out what the scheme would look like and what dog-walkers “would like to pay”.

He added: “It is not about income generation, it is about cost avoidance. It is about working with them so they respect our open spaces and to do that in the right way.”

Last week, Heidi Skipper from Bracknell dog-walking service Kozy K9z, told the News: “We already pay for a licence to board dogs and now they want to charge us for walking our dogs as well.

“It is going to put a lot of people out of business and that is not great for the dogs, let alone the people.”

However, Kevin Buckland, owner of Pack Pals Dog Walking, said he was “all for the business being properly licensed for public walking” but added that he feared “that there is no way to monitor and enforce said licence - there are few, if any, national standards let alone council ones in place.”

Mr Hunter suggested the scheme could be policed by park rangers, who could be directed to look out for accredited dog-walkers potentially made to wear lanyards to signpost they have a dog-walking licence.

Cllr Angell questioned the director on whether the council were aware of many dog-walking businesses in the area, and Mr Hunter pointed out that the council would identify dog-walkers through their advertising and social media posts, adding that it is “quite easy to get names”.

A local authority in Swindon was repeatedly acknowledged for its own dog-walking scheme and Mr Hunter told councillors dog-walkers in Wiltshire voluntarily signed up to be licensed because they wanted to be recognised by the authority.

One councillor said: “It is important to maintain what this report is saying. We are not implementing it - we are investigating the pros and cons of it. It will then go back to the executive.

The director said a decision on whether the dog-walking scheme and other parks and countryside initiatives would go ahead could come in the next 3-6 months.

The scheme was discussed by councillors at a meeting of the Environment, Culture and Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel on Tuesday, January 9.