Stalemate over Ottery dog ban bid

A CONTROVERSIAL bid to ban dogs from Winters Lane playing field has reached a stalemate, despite pleas to reconcile the emotional factions who are odds with one-another over it.

A CONTROVERSIAL bid to ban dogs from Winters Lane playing field has reached a stalemate, despite pleas to reconcile the "emotional" factions who are odds with one-another over it.

Ottery St Mary town council, which discussed the issue on Monday, will not make any decisions on the proposed measure until East Devon District Council's (EDDC) executive board officially delegates the matter to it.

This will not happen until May at the earliest.

The council, which has previously backed the ban, also refused to hold any talks with campaign group Ottery Dogs until this stage, despite concerns from some officials that the emotive matter needs to be brought back to "reality and calmness".

Campaigners against the ban have been labelled as "aggressive" while the council has been accused of deciding on the matter without consulting the public.

At the meeting, Councillor Roger Giles said: "I'm concerned about what has been going on for several months. Strong emotions have led to people being at odds with each other.

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"We've got time to sort this out and I'd like support for a meeting between the (town) council and Ottery Dogs to talk things over with more of a spirit of harmony, to find some common ground."

However, other officials felt the council had "stated its case" at a seemingly unproductive meeting between the two groups earlier this year and further, premature talks would "serve no purpose at all".

Councillor Ray Bloxham wants those involved to "bring the situation back to reality and calmness" and feels Ottery's "silent majority" are key to deciding on the future use of Winters Lane playing field.

He said: "There are three groups of people here. Those who want to exercise their dogs, people opposing that and the silent majority.

"EDDC has struggled with this issue, balancing the needs of two extreme groups, and we will as well. Let's look at the people in the middle and listen to them."

"Ottery Dogs are doing a lot of good work, but I would urge them to go away and look at how they represent themselves, how they are being received by the silent majority."

Mayor Glyn Dobson, who labelled last month's EDDC corporate overview committee's recommendation to pass the dog-ban decision back to the town council as a "cop-out", promised a "proper" public consultation over the issue, should the town council get to make it, adding: "we have to wait and see what happens."

Ottery Dogs representative Mel Turner told the Herald after the meeting she was "disappointed" some of the opinions stated in a raft of letters from campaigners; tabled for councillors to read, were not read aloud for the public to hear.

She also questioned why Mr Giles' suggestion had fallen on deaf ears, saying: "We (Ottery Dogs) just want a meeting of minds and a decent dialogue, we have made an impact on fouling and litter and we can focus on this even more if the council would give us its personal and public support.