Dog ban splits opinion as council invites views

The proposed new restrictions would limit where dog walkers could exercise their pets
The proposed new restrictions would limit where dog walkers could exercise their pets

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to ban dogs from sports pitches and play areas has received a mixed reaction from the Todmorden community.

Calderdale Council will consult people on the proposed new control orders to promote responsible dog ownership. These include excluding dogs - but not assistance dogs - from sports pitches, playing fields, children’s play areas, ornamental gardens, tennis courts and bowling greens in the borough.

The new orders also include empowering council officers to demand owners put their dogs on leads in parks, nature reserves, canal towpaths and on moorland and agricultural land.

Coun Barry Collins, the council’s cabinet member for economy and environment, acknowledged that the majority of dog owners were caring and responsible, keeping their dogs under control and clearing up after them.

“The proposals do not include banning dogs from parks, nor will dogs be required to be on a lead at all times in parks,” he said.

“Dog walkers need to be able to exercise their dogs in public places. But we have to balance that against the health risks to members of the public, particularly children, who could come into contact with dog faeces.

“There is also a need to protect the health of colleagues who cut the grass, tend the bedding plants etc, within these areas by preventing or limiting their contact with dog excrement.”

The council intends to undertake a public consultation on the proposed orders between October 3 and November 4.

Coun Collins said: “The council is keen to listen to all views before making any decisions, particularly on how best to balance the exercising of dogs with keeping sports pitches free of fouling.

“Under the new orders, dog owners will still be able to exercise dogs off the lead in parks, although they will be excluded from children’s play areas.”

Chris Barker, assistant manager of Jack’s House football club, which plays its matches at Walsden Rec, was in favour of the proposed new orders.

“It would absolutely make it better,” he said. “We have had to go on and clear the pitch before matches.

“There’s nothing worse than sliding through a pile of dog mess.”

Todmorden town councillor Anne James felt the proposals were too harsh on responsible dog owners.

She said more focus should be placed on wardens taking action against irresponsible dog owners.

“More enforcement would maybe teach people a lesson to be responsible for their dogs,” she said.

“As long as dogs are with an owner and on a lead, I don’t think they should be banned.”

Fellow town councillor John Lockhart said excluding dogs from certain areas would result in more fouling on the streets.