DOG walkers who allow their pets to stray into children’s play parks will face fines of up to £1,000 under new powers.

People will also be fined if they allow their dog to stray or fail to put their pet on a lead when instructed to do so.

The new powers are part of Durham County Council’s plans to introduce a new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) from June 1.

The existing offence for allowing a dog to foul without picking it up will continue.

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of the authority, said: “These new powers will enable us to take action against irresponsible dog owners and those who affect the public’s health and wellbeing through their actions.

“The new order will also complement our ongoing education and engagement programmes, which encourage dog owners to do the right thing and act in the best interests of others to protect the towns and villages where we live, work or visit.”

Trained council officers and Durham Constabulary staff will be able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for £100, discounted to £60 if paid within ten working days, for breach of the Public Space Protection Order.

Failure to pay will lead to prosecution, with a maximum fine of £1,000.

The order will not apply to anyone who is registered as blind, is disabled or who uses a trained assistance dog.

During 2015/16, the council received 1,778 calls about stray dogs and collected 1,173 stray dogs.

The council carried out consultation between August and December last year and found 80 per cent of respondents agreed with the proposal.

The consultation also found that most people hope it will encourage responsible dog ownership, reduce the number of strays, create safe and welcoming fixed play space areas and tackle dog fouling incidents.

Oliver Sherratt, head of direct services, said: “While most dog owners in our county are responsible, it is the minority who spoil our local communities and environment for others to enjoy.

“These new powers will help to keep our neighbourhoods clean, green and safe.”