Ottery dog ban saga takes another twist

A DECISION on whether dogs should be banned from Ottery s Winters Lane playing field looks set to be passed from district to town councillors.

A DECISION on whether dogs should be banned from Ottery's Winters Lane playing field looks set to be passed from district to town councillors.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) Corporate Overview Committee members felt they could not make a decision on the controversial field "from a distance" when they debated a region-wide re-vamp of dog-control orders last Thursday.

They concluded that, because of the "local issues" raised in a recent public consultation, the decision should be left with the town's elected representatives.

Approval of the committee's recommendations by EDDC's executive board will mean:

- Dogs MUST be kept on leads in the Land of Canaan- owners caught flouting this will face a fixed penalty notice punishment.

- Ottery town council will decide on whether to ban dogs from Winters Lane playing field- and would be part-responsible for policing the measure.

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EDDC is currently seeking legal advice on whether the Winters Lane area will fall under its dogs-on leads control orders should the town council take no action. Residents have only been consulted over a total ban for the field, but an existing byelaw permits dogs, as long as they are on leads.

Ottery Dogs campaigners turned out in force at the meeting and accused Ottery town council of "scaremongering the public" over child-blindness risk claims and "making decisions on behalf of children and young people without consulting them."

Ottery district councillor David Cox hit back, labelling the group's campaign as "slightly aggressive" and dismissed claims there were no alternative areas for vulnerable dog-walkers as "nonsense", saying: "We live in the middle of the countryside". He urged members that the decision should be left to the "elected representatives of people of Ottery."

Simon Smale EDDC Head of Environmental health Simon Smale told the Herald:

"Our consultation raised a lot of local issues- issues that are difficult for us to make a judgement on from the centre.

"If town council want it they will be able to make the order- but will have to go through same process we that we have- they must establish a need and will have to advertise it.�

"A number of people will be authorised to police it- we could still enforce it-but there will be an expectation for the town council to make its own enforcement measures."

Ottery town council will discuss dog-control measures when it meets on Monday.