Laws spark a dogfight

COUNCILLORS got hot under the collar last week about dog-owners right to exercise their pets in Huntingdonshire s public parks. The district council s plans to extend dog control orders across the district had to be deferred by the council s cabinet to a

COUNCILLORS got hot under the collar last week about dog-owners' right to exercise their pets in Huntingdonshire's public parks.

The district council's plans to extend dog control orders across the district had to be deferred by the council's cabinet to allow tempers to cool and new information to be gathered.

New laws, which replace byelaws and repealed legislation, allow HDC to make it an offence to fail to remove dog faeces, fail to keep an animal on a lead or put and keep it on a lead when asked to do so and to permit a dog to enter land (such as children's play areas) from which dogs are excluded.

It was not keeping a dog on a lead that had St Neots cabinet member, Councillor Paula Longford, snapping at colleagues' heels.

"I'm a responsible dog owner, and I support some of these provisions. But my hackles really rose over orders about not keeping a dog on a lead," she fumed.

"It's stopping owners exercising their dogs in Huntingdon's Riverside Park, St Neots Riverside Park and parts of Hinchingbrooke Country Park. I'm also concerned about the consultation. How many people read small advertisements in newspapers?

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"Our parks are for the public to enjoy," she said. "We can't keep having orders and laws to prevent us enjoying ourselves."

But Councillor Deborah Reynolds, who is responsible for such things, retorted: "We have responsible dog-owners and we have irresponsible dog owners. Our own operations department has asked for some of these areas to be designated for dogs on leads.

"If we don't implement this now, it will be some considerable time before we can implement it. We have to look after every member of the population, not just dog-owners."

She promised that orders would not be enforced unless notices describing their effect were prominently displayed.

Councillor Ian Bates, the leader, decided a decision would have to wait for the next meeting, when the cabinet will expect further information on dogs, leads and whether responsible owners speak for the majority or a minority.

* Should restrictions be placed on dog-owners, forcing them to keep their pets on a lead in parts of Huntingdonshire's public parks? Let us know your views by e-mailing or writing to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TB. Please remember to include your name and address.

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