Ottery dog ban

A BAN on Ottery St Mary residents walking their dogs in a popular playing field moves a step closer.

A BAN on Ottery St Mary residents walking their dogs in a popular playing field moved a step closer on Monday despite protests from canine owners.

Ottery Town Council backed proposals by East Devon District Council to prohibit dog walkers from setting foot on the Winters Lane playing field and ensure the animals are kept on leads in the Land of Canaan area. The children's play areas at both sites will also become dog-free zones.

Town Councillors had initially backed the proposals in March and reaffirmed their stance at a meeting on Monday after EDDC acknowledged "a number of dog owners locally were very unhappy" with a potential Winters Lane ban.

The council has received correspondence from residents who have expressed concern and surprise that dogs are allowed to run free and mess in an area where children play.

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Councillor P Williams said in support of the ban: "There should be no half way areas between where children play and where people walk their dogs."

Mayor, Cllr G Dobson added: "Perhaps if there weren't dogs on there then more children would want to play there."

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Thirty nine dog owners have signed a petition against the ban. Adrian Forster, of Oak Close, who has been coordinating the protests feels Winters Lane dog walkers are is being punished for a wider problem in the town.

He said: "Winters Lane is designated a playing field but it really isn't, it was donated for the enjoyment of the community and the primary users of it are dog owners. Children do play there, but it is an important social area for dog walkers, especially elderly ones. We pick up any dog mess religiously and would challenge anyone who didn't."

"Ottery has a significant dog fouling problem that has not been dealt with and this ban is a measure that is disproportional to the problem, they are punishing responsible dog owners because they can't deal with a wider problem. You don't take all the cars off the road because people are speeding. The answer to this is responsible dog ownership."

"This is a rural area, we have cats, badgers and foxes going on there, you can't just create a vacuum environment. You only need to walk on the streets to see that just because a dog is on a lead it doesn't change the fact the owner knows it's done the toilet and chooses not to pick it up. I find it totally unacceptable when people leave it."

EDDC will now embark on a public consultation phase before it makes a final decision on the ban.

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