Are they ‘barking up the wrong tree?’

Campaigners,  Kieran Burke, Derek Gott, Nicky Saddler and  Ria Brooks
Campaigners, Kieran Burke, Derek Gott, Nicky Saddler and Ria Brooks

Village dog walkers have vowed to fight a proposal by a parish council to ban their pets from a popular walking spot.

Walton Parish Council has issued a notice of intention to make a dog control order, which would prevent pets being walked on the School Lane recreation ground.

It says the ban is needed to tackle the problem of dog fouling. And anyone found with dogs on the site, which would be policed by Wakefield Council’s dog wardens, could face a £75 fine or prosecution.

But locals say the move is completely unjustified and feel discriminated against.

Kieran Burke, of Shay Lane, is leading the campaign against the ban and has started a petition.

He said: “We agree that dog mess should be picked up and owners are responsible for this. But we do not feel they should all be tarred with the same brush.

“What will be next? Will we be banned from the village streets?”

Mr Burke said there are other ways of dealing with the problem, like fencing off the children’s play area, so dogs cannot get in, or employing wardens to spot irresponsible dog owners.

“The recreation ground is a place where people feel safe, especially the elderly. No one wants to go to other places when it’s dark, or onto paths by the canal which are not suitable for people who are a little unsteady on their feet. I have seen OAPs in tears over this.

“Dog walkers help keep trouble away from the play area. If we’re banned, there will be a return of anti-social behaviour.”

David Plaut, clerk of Walton Parish Council, said the council is open to suggestions.

He said: “Dog fouling is not only unpleasant, it’s dangerous and a health hazard. We know most dog owners are responsible and we do recognise the need to balance the needs of both dog owners and others to enjoy our recreation spaces.

“It would be difficult to fence the playground because there is a path running straight through the middle of it, but we are open to ideas that people may have.”

Mr Plaut said other councils have used the power that was given to them under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act of 2005. He added: “It’s easier to spot a dog on land where a ban is in place and report them, than it is to catch someone not picking up after their pets.”

The consultation is ongoing and representations can be made in writing to Walton Parish Council, Gissing House, 9 Wentworth Terrace, Wakefield, WF1 3QW or by emailing until 5pm on Wednesday, January 15.