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Will dogs be banned from the Meadows?
Wednesday, 01 August 2012
DOGS could be banned from Tavistock’s Meadows, following an unacceptable rise in fouling, a leading councillor this week warned.
Former town mayor Mandy Govier said she has been ‘horrified’ at the state of council employees returning from a shift in the park — thanks to irresponsible dog owners.
Cllr Govier said: ‘I was really shocked when I went down to the depot the other day — they literally had to be hosed down completely.
‘It was really, really horrible. They are down in the Meadows strimming, and dog mess is literally flying up into their faces and all over their clothes.
‘They were literally covered — I was horrified. They wear visors and protective clothing, thank God, but imagine working like that?
‘Would you like your husband or son to come home from work covered in dog poo?
‘I think it’s appalling.
‘The only other option that the town council may have to consider is barring dogs from the Meadows. I don’t think anybody wants that but people just have to be more responsible.’
At last week’s meeting of the town’s properties committee, councillors were told the problem of dog mess in council-owned areas like the Meadows had got considerably worse recently.
The council withdrew from West Devon Borough Council’s dog warden scheme earlier this year, because members felt they were not getting value for money. The scheme cost £4,256 per year.
Works administrator James Clapp told members that in addition to being unpleasant, dog faeces could also contain harmful pathogens and worms, which could cause toxocariasis in humans, leading to blindness.
Mr Clapp said the council could introduce dog control orders on its land, enabling staff to issue fixed penalty notices to offenders. This carried a cost implication of up to £10,000. Officer costs for patrolling, vehicle costs and training for the first year would be more than £4,000.
Mr Clapp recommended the council re-enter the borough’s dog warden scheme — on the condition a town council officer was enabled to issue fixed penalty notices when required, with the borough providing legal and administrative support. This option would cost around £3,450 per annum.
But Cllr Ted Sherrell said: ‘I can’t believe we are seriously considering going back to the borough council warden scheme.
‘It’s been tried and tested and frankly, it was lamentable — it didn’t work.
‘Dog fouling is proliferating, yet they prosecuted about as regularly as a visit from Halley’s comet, you could grow old waiting for one to happen. It seems to me the only argument for going back to it is that it’s better than nothing.’
Cllr Sherrell said he accepted it might cost the town council money to train staff and run its own scheme — but at least such a scheme would be directly under its own control.
Cllr Philip Sanders said it was not good enough to say dog fouling was getting worse — ‘robust evidence’ was required.
The West Devon scheme was ‘too diluted’ over the whole borough to work effectively and if the town council was serious about the problem, more investment in finding a solution would be needed.
‘If we are serious about tackling it, we need to get hold of it, sort it out and get it under our control and deliver a good service for the people of the town — and get the credit for it,’ he said.
But town mayor Cllr Anne Johnson backed Mr Clapp’s recommendation. She said: ‘On this occasion I disagree with Cllr Sherrell. There is an increasing problem in the town with dog fouling and we need to deal with it now.
‘It would take a long time to set up our own scheme and it’s going to be very costly. I would suggest we re-enter the West Devon scheme with re-negotiated terms.’
The committee recommended the council investigate the introduction of an order covering its own land, enabling its own staff to issue penalty tickets to offenders.
While the legalities and training of staff was being undertaken, the town would re-enter into the West Devon scheme for a limited period of up to a year.
The decision was due to be ratified at the full council meeting on Tuesday night.
All content © of Tavistock Times Gazette unless stated otherwise.
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Sir Ray Tindle
Something to sell?