In response to Cllr Hutson’s letter of the 22nd September as someone who attended the meeting and now having had a read of the proposals I am sorry to say that it does not allay “my fears”.
While Cllr Collins may have presented the proposals in a very nice manner stating on a number of occasions that dogs were not to be banned from the parks/open spaces of Calderdale, I find this to be a bit of a contradiction when reading the report. The number of named areas to which the “exclusion” order will apply is really quite extensive. I do realise that some of these exclusion areas are children’s playgrounds, tennis courts and bowling greens not the usual places that any sensible dog owner would take their pet for exercise, however there are places like Calder Homes Park in Hebden Bridge and possibly Savile Park (a multi-use sports ground?), which according to the proposals would become a no go areas for dog owners.
The “exclusion” order, whilst it does address the needs of the blind, deaf and people who have a “prescribed” charity dog, it fails to recognise the needs of people with mobility problems and the elderly, who may have an area of land close to their home that will soon fall into this category.
No concrete proposals were given at the meeting as to how these orders would be enforced.
Currently there are 55 authorised officers and quoting from the report the number of fixed penalties issued for dog fouling under the current legislation has been low, interestingly no figures are given for this, whilst the figure of 661 dog fouling service requests seems to come to come to the forefront, but with no data on how many individual people reported this and to which area it related to.
With all these additional rules now proposed and with some parks having two proposed orders how will the current officers cope when it seems they cannot enforce the current legislation?
It is good reading everyone having their say in the Courier, but we now need to make sure we get this consultation document out to as many people as possible.
Cllr Collins promised that it would be widely publicised but he did allow himself a “Get out of Jail Free” card in that he couldn’t guarantee it. For anyone interested in helping get the message out to the masses – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for links to various pages or the forum http://calderdaledogwalkers.freeforums.org/. We need to let the council know our views on the matter – let’s not let apathy get the better of us!
Clare B (occasional dog walker)