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Dog walkers protest at ban from recreation area in Skipton
8:00am Saturday 14th September 2013 in News
A special working group is to be set up to look at dog walking in one of Skipton’s largest recreation grounds.
Dog owners told town councillors on Thursday they were unhappy about being ordered to keep their pets on leads while walking in Middletown Recreation ground.
Several residents claimed they had exercised their dogs there for years and had been angry about the overnight appearance of signs at all three entrances telling them to keep to the dog area or keep their pets leashed.
One said he owned a Border Collie dog that needed to run and that he was unhappy about using the specified area for dogs as it was too small and covered in “dog muck”.
Another said the signs had caused division and disharmony among users of the recreation ground and it was a sad situation.
Similar signs were erected at another of the town’s play areas off Shortbank Road a few weeks ago.
Chief officer Dave Parker told the meeting it was an unfortunate fact that not all dog owners picked up after their pets and that excrement was causing problems for other users and council maintenance staff.
He added here was nothing sinister about the signs going up, but that they had clearly been unpopular.
“We have had reports from ground staff that dog fouling is a problem and is not very pleasant when cutting the grass,” he said.
There had also been times when a football match planned by LMS Juniors had been cancelled because of the state of the Middletown ground – not just because of dogs, but also because of horses being exercised.
But public services committee chairman Coun Robert Heseltine said the Middletown park was more than nine acres and he was sure that a compromise could be reached to keep everyone happy.
He said the area was greatly underutilised and agreed that the area put aside for dog walking was much too small.
Coun Paul English said the park was the largest the council owned and it was unfortunate that the minority of dog owners was ruining it for the majority.
“I am sure there are plenty of options here and I would fully support a large part of the park for dog walkers,” he said.
Councillors agreed that a working group would be set up to look at the issues and come up with a compromise plan.
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