Controversial plans which could force Ribble Valley dog owners to keep their pets on leads at all times have been described as a “slap in the face of the elderly”.
A consultation into tighter controls on dogs in public has been launched by Ribble Valley Borough Council under a proposed public space protection order.
The council wants to tackle the scourge of dog poo in public, which would result in dogs on leads on council land and public highways, prohibiting dogs from parish and town council-owned play areas and churchyards. It could also lead to dog owners carrying dog poop bags or face a fine of £100. The move has prompted a backlash from pet owners who claim the plans discriminate against dogs. Dozens of people packed into The New Inn, Clitheroe, yesterday evening (Monday) to voice their concerns.
Jackie Robinson was among those who attended. She said: “The dog walking community in the Ribble Valley believes this is an extreme and disproportionate response to the problem of dog fouling and will impact most on responsible dog owners who clean up after their pets and who are concerned for the welfare of their dogs. This is unnatural behaviour for dogs and will ultimately lead to dog aggression, creating serious problems in the community.”
Also upset by the proposals is animal-lover Peter Crossley, landlord of The White Lion Pub, Clitheroe. An owner of two dogs, he said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s just not giving dogs the freedom they need. We are considerate and responsible dog owners, we clean up after our pets, we pay our rates so why shouldnt we allow our dogs to be off leads in parks, the castle fields or the churchyards in the Ribble Valley? These proposals are a slap in the face of the elderly who cannot take their dogs up Pendle or out of town for a walk. And Clitheroe is always described as a pet-friendly town. What message are we giving out to responsible pet owners? This order is a slap in the face of tourism too.”
Ribble Valley Lib Dem councillor Allan Knox agreed. He said: “Yes, it is important to tackle dog-fouling, but to ban dogs exercising freely on the Castle Field seems a draconian punishment for the vast majority of dog owners, who act responsibly. It also seems madness that the council only has one full-time equivalent dog warden – it would be much better to employ a second warden than to bring in these silly orders.”
Ribble Valley Borough Council’s head of environmental health, Heather Coar, stressed the consultation is in its early stages and views of the public will be heard before any decision is made.
She explained: “Requiring dogs to be kept on leads or restricting access to dogs in desginated areas will reduce dog fouling, which is blighting the borough. Residents can have their say on the proposals until Monday, September 4th, by downloading a questionnaire at ribblvalley.gov.uk and returning it to the Environmental Health Department, Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 2RA. Anyone requiring a paper copy of the questionnaire should call the council on 01200 425111.”
A petition is currently circulating the town against the consultation. The “Let Leia Run” petition can be signed by logging onto https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/let-leia-run