Can we have real figures?

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Given the heated debate over Calderdale’s proposed Dog Control Orders, it is clear that a truthful account of the extent of the dog “problem” in the borough is needed so that the public can discuss the matter in an informed manner.

Sadly, the Council Cabinet does not seem willing or able to supply accurate data on this issue.

Last year, when the Council Cabinet were preparing the ground for Dog Control Orders, Councillor Barry Collins issued an official press release (20/9/2010) stating that Calderdale received 5000 complaints about dog fouling in the previous year.

In fact, the true figure is less than one seventh of that number and stands at 694.

Further misinformation was given out in a more recent press release (12/09/2011) stating that the Council gets more than 300 dangerous dog complaints a year.

The real average for the last few years is about 54. Yet again, Calderdale’s figures represent a huge exaggeration.

These Council press releases were reported widely in the local and regional press, even making it onto the BBC, so it is likely that they are now viewed as ‘fact’ by a large cross-section of the population.

Given that the Dog Control debate has seriously divided our community and caused rifts that could take years to heal, I find it outrageous that Councillor Collins has misled the public on this issue.

To try and get these data corrected, I have e-mailed the Deputy Leader of the Council, Tim Swift. I also contacted Barry Collins asking for clarification. Neither has bothered to reply.

To resolve the issue I’d like to see an apology published and for there to be an independent investigation.

The public need to be reassured that these inaccuracies were simply a result of Councillor Collins’ incompetence and not a cynical attempt to strengthen his case for Dog Control Orders.

RJ Prince

Hebden Bridge