Dog ban for Hawkenbury Rec?
The TWBC cabinet have deemed dog walking in the borough as anti-social behaviour. A consultation has been agreed whereby dog walking in a number of recreational spaces in Tunbridge Wells will be banned outright, regardless of whether the dog is on lead or not.
This consultation is being run under a ‘quality of life’ banner in the borough and the council think that dog walking in our local recreational areas does not contribute to our ‘quality of life’ and is deemed anti-social.
It would appear that the true nature of changes to the Public Spaces Protection Orders is also being hidden from members of the public. PSPOs are to replace Gating Orders, Dog Control Orders and Designated Public Place Orders (Alcohol Control Areas). When you first look at the survey, it would seem that it is mainly about Alcohol Control Orders and the supporting documents enforce this view. However, when you go to page 2 of the survey, you are presented with the following statement:
The Council is considering using the Public Spaces Protection Order to prevent dog owners/walkers from bringing their animal into specified or signed areas whether or not the dog is leashed. This includes designated sports fields, fenced/enclosed children’s play areas and where there is a sign at its entrance(s) as a “dog exclusion area”. This prohibition strongly supports the dog fouling prohibition in that it prevents misuse of playing fields regularly used for sporting events.
Areas for consideration of this restriction are:
- St Mark’s Recreation Ground
- Nevill Ground
- Kent & Sussex Crematorium
- Tunbridge Wells Cemetery
- Woodbury Park Cemetery
- Bayham and Cadogan sports grounds
- Hawkenbury sports pitches
- The Grove Park
It is going to be difficult to enforce this PSPO in the Hawkenbury Recreation Ground as it is fairly open and the playing fields are not enclosed. The only practical solution is to enforce the PSPO across the entire Hawkenbury Recreation Ground, leaving nowhere for local residents to walk their dogs.
I am also surprised that Terry Hughes, Community Safety Manager, states that:
The dog controls were the least contentious and enjoyed wide support.
Clearly, he has not spoken to the park users and dog walkers in Hawkenbury. I certainly do not support this view and he has not contacted the Hawkenbury Village Association to obtain their input.
As a responsible dog walker, I find it incredible that the council and its officers would deem my behaviour as anti-social. Far from it, it is probably the most social activity I have participated in and have met many people through dog walking. It will be a sad day when I can no longer freely walk my dog in the Hawkenbury Recreation Ground.
I do support the fouling and bag ideas, as it is one thing that irks me. All our parks have bags at the entrances and there are bins, yet a small minority of people still refuse to pick up after their dogs. I do have questions about how this is to be enforced, as I am not aware of anyone being issued a fine in the Hawkenbury Recreation Ground under the existing bye-laws.
The consultation runs from 6 November 2017 and closes on 18 December 2017 at 17:00. Please complete the survey here and feel free to comment below. http://consult.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/portal/comm_safe/pspo
The cabinet approved the consultation and Councillors Moore (Park Ward) and March (Brenchley) both serve on the cabinet.
Below are the email address for the members of the TWBC cabinet. Please copy your email to all of them, so that they know how strongly you agree or disagree with this policy.
Councillor Jukes – email@example.com
Councillor McDermott – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Dr Basu – email@example.com Portfolio holder responsible for this policy.
Councillor March – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Moore – email@example.com
Councillor Reilly – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Weatherly – email@example.com
Update: 10 November 2017
The council have clarified their stance of the ban of dogs in the Recreation grounds and parks in Tunbridge Wells and you can see the expanded consultation on the website listed above.
The council have tried to emphasis that the ban on dogs in relation to Hawkenbury Recreation Ground is only in relation to the sport pitches. I have asked the council to clarify the area of the sports pitches as it varies between seasons. Is it their intention to fence off the sports fields? Where will the fence be and what will it include? Will the cricket pitch and pavilion area be off limits and where does it stop? Simply putting up a sign in not going to work and how will they enforce it.
I believe the measures are draconian to try and solve a very small problem. I’d hasten to add that most of the fouling on the cricket pitch area is caused by foxes, rather than dogs.