‘Shocking’ dog mess on Sidford sports fields branded a health risk

Dog mess on Sidford sports fields branded a health hazard

Dog mess on Sidford sports fields branded a health hazard - Credit: Archant

Football coach calls for ban if irresponsible owners don’t clean up their act

Children’s health is at risk from ‘shocking’ amounts of dog mess on Sidford’s playing fields, according to a coach who is campaigning for immediate action.

Bill Emmett, of Sidmouth Junior Vikings, said the persistent problem came to a head on Saturday morning when he and a friend had to pick up 20 bags of excrement from the pitches before they could allow youngsters to play.

The team manager is calling on East Devon District Council (EDDC) to clamp down on irresponsible dog owners - and said he would like a complete ban on canines being walked at the public playing fields.

Bill said: “It has just got to be a huge problem - it is horrendous. I was up there on Saturday morning and I picked up six or seven bags myself. My friend picked up another load, so we had about 20 bags in total from the pitches.

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“The children are at risk - it’s an eyesore and a health hazard and it’s not acceptable. Unless dog owners become more responsible, we must call for a ban on walking dogs on the sports pitches. I find it a revolting thing to have to do and it’s a concerning risk to the health of the kids.”

Bill added that, as a minimum, there needs to be more signs and bins provided to combat the problem.

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An EDDC spokeswoman said: “There is a legal requirement for all dog owners to pick up after their dogs wherever they walk them in East Devon. This is particularly important on areas where sport is played and any responsible dog owner would not wish to see other members of the public put at risk.”

She added that The Byes’ playing fields have a control order that dictates dogs must be kept on leads, so owners do not have the excuse of not knowing their pet has fouled.

EDDC is encouraging members of the public to advise it of the description of people and their dogs not complying with the rules.

The authority has warned that fixed penalty tickets will be issued to any dog owner identified as being responsible for either exercising their pet off a lead in the area, or not picking up after their pet on any open land in East Devon.

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