‘Disabled and old pet owners will suffer the most’

Hebden resident Amanda Johnson might have to keep her dog, Howard, on a lead in future
Hebden resident Amanda Johnson might have to keep her dog, Howard, on a lead in future

Controversial new dog control orders could seriously affect elderly and disabled dog-owners, a group of Hebden Bridge residents have claimed.

Under the proposed legislation, parks and recreation grounds will become dog exclusion zones, including Hebden’s Calder Holmes Park, while the Rochdale Canal towpath will become an on-lead only zone.

But residents have claimed that the proposals will impact heavily on the elderly and the disabled, and have accused the council of “dog-scrimination”.

Dr Richard Prince, a Hebden Bridge resident who is leading the fight against the orders, said: “Calder Holmes and the canal tow path are the only dog-exercise areas in Hebden easily accessible to the elderly and disabled.

“And the park is the only place to exercise dogs off-lead that has any kind of lighting. That’s important for some female owners too.”

While the council have now included the Calderdale Disability Partnership, Richard believes the elderly have still not been considered.

“I think it’s a sad indictment of Calderdale Council’s attitude to the disabled when the Disability Partnership has to come forward and ask to be involved in the consultation process.

“Disability awareness ought to be at the top of the council’s agenda, not an afterthought,” he said.

Another resident, Amanda Johnson, who lives near the Rochdale Canal, uses Calder Holmes on a daily basis to walk her dog, Howard.

She said: “I can’t see how I am expected to take Howard out into the woods on my mobility scooter. That’s just crazy” she said.

“I always pick up after Howard and he never causes anyone any bother.

“All he’s interested in is chasing his ball, just like the footballers who are forcing dog-owners out of the park.”