Dog owners to fight plans for park restriction
DOG walkers have launched a petition fighting plans to introduce new legislation stating people must keep their pets on a lead at a playing field in Cleeve.
North Somerset Council is considering introducing a raft of new dog control orders across the district, including one where dogs must be kept on leads at the King George VI playing fields in the village.
The playing fields – a popular spot with dozens of dog owners in the village – are owned by Fields in Trust, formerly the National Playing Fields Association.
A group of six trustees run the fields on behalf of the trust and are responsible for its everyday management.
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Trustees approached the authority around eight months ago regarding the introduction of a dogs on lead order following complaints about the levels of dogs mess left on the field.
Players at local sports clubs said they have to clear the pitches of dog mess before matches could start.
And the volunteer who cuts the grass also threatened to quit after complaining he regularly got covered in muck.
A spokesman for the trustees said: "We approached the council following numerous complaints from users of the playing fields about dog mess.
"This is not a decision we have taken lightly.
"We do have sympathy with the dog walking community but primarily this is a sports field used to play sports.
"It is a shame because the majority of dog owners clean up after themselves and it is the minority of people who don't which are spoiling it for everyone else.
"North Somerset Council will make the final decision based on consultation with local people."
But dog walkers are furious at the possible introduction of a control order stating their dogs must be kept on leads and not allowed to run free.
Dog owner Ed Crocker, 62, who runs Cleeve News with wife Jen has launched a petition and in a week has already collected 50 signatures against the proposal.
Ed, who uses the field every morning to walk his three and a half year old border terrier Jasper, said: "There are a lot of people in the village who take their dogs to the field for a good old run around.
"It is the only place in the village where we can do this and our dogs get a good deal of exercise from being allowed to run around freely.
"It is not just dog owners who are objecting to this new order, but people in the village who don't have pets.
"Most dog owners are responsible and clean up after their animals.
"A lot of people in the village feel very strongly about this potential new order and a number of dog owners and non dog owners have signed the petition which we plan to hand into North Somerset Council."
Cleeve Parish Council is due to discuss the dog control order at its meeting on June 19.
A consultation on the new orders – which could also see dogs banned completely from some playing fields – runs until the end of June.
People can leave their comments at the council website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/dogcontrol orders2012.
Council spokesman, Nick Yates, said: "The consultation is likely to generate interest from the public, mainly from dog walkers in local areas."
People can be fined £75 if they are caught failing to clean up after their pets.