Proposed ban on dogs in Uckfield parks prompts anger
By Sussex Courier | Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 08:01
DOGS will banned from some public parks and open spaces in Uckfield under plans being drawn up by the town council.
UNLEASHED: Jane Farthing, Sharon Grimes, Karen Wiles and Cathy Sutherland exercise their pets regularly on the Victoria Pleasure Ground, but may have to keep them on a lead in the future
Footballers, grass-cutters and the elderly have complained about the mess people's pets leave behind at sites such as Victoria Pleasure Ground, off the High Street, Luxford Field and Boothland Wood.
Councillors say they do not want to resort to introducing dog control orders but have "no choice".
Karen Wiles, who has operated a dog-walking business in the town since 2008, is furious.
She said: "Dog-walkers are an easy group of people to target.
"They're not suggesting banning children but they do much more damage dropping litter or broken glass."
Uckfield Town Council is yet to finalise its plans for the orders but a trio of councillors will thrash out the details next week.
After that, residents will have one month to comment before they are voted on. Volunteers and wardens would police the new rules, if passed.
Town councillor Helen Firth explained: "A lot of people, when they turn up at places like Victoria, open their car door and immediately two or three dogs are off the lead. It's a lovely area with lovely views and you've got young children playing there and older people trying to sit and relax and they get frightened when dogs jump up. Also, when dogs are off the lead, people don't know where they do their business so the mess gets left behind. We've had footballers having to pick up faeces and put them in their pocket."
Mrs Firth, who has had dogs in the past but now does not, added: "We are obligated to provide somewhere for dogs to walk so we're having to look at the locations but we have to think what's more important – people or animals? We have no choice."
Mrs Wiles, who owns a five-year-old schnauzer called Gem and who walks up to five dogs at a time, both on and off their leads, remained unconvinced at the need for a ban.
She added: "Its using a mallet to crack a nut.
"If only some areas are going to be distinguished as no dog-zones like areas where people are playing sport then that's one argument I can understand, but I'm told it might be woodland as well.
"Of course everyone should pick up after their pets but at least mess is biodegradable. Its not as big a deal as some people make out. I take the dogs to Boothland and Victoria. With all the houses being built, we'll have nowhere to exercise dogs soon."
A petition has been set-up by a group of fellow pet-owners which can be signed in Paws And Claws shop in West Street.