A LOCAL councillor has vowed to keep fighting for a dog exercise area in her town despite feeling she is “standing alone” on the issue.
Penny Ward feels that Callington lacks a dog-friendly open space. She’d like to see part of the large Launceston Road Recreation Ground fenced off for that purpose. But back in May, fellow councillors rejected her proposal for the second time, citing the risk to public health, and the potential cost to residents, among the reasons to say no.
During the same meeting, councillors voted almost unanimously to renew the existing dog bans at the Launceston Road and Saltash Road parks, and to seek new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) for the parks at Tamar Road and Rosemullion Gardens.
The council has argued that there are footpaths within close reach of the town centre where people can walk their dogs, and that nearby nature reserves and woods provide ample open space.
Now, armed with the results of a survey carried out by MP Sheryll Murray, Cllr Ward says she will go back to the council to argue the case for dog walkers for a third time in November.
She says she’ll also be challenging the council over the renewal of the dog bans, as she feels this has been done without enough consultation.
“I will continue to put pressure on my colleagues at the council and represent the views of so many residents against the eight councillors who voted against a dog friendly space at Launceston Road,” she said.
“I stand alone on this and need as much public support as possible.”
The topic has led to some strongly worded debate on social media and seems to divide opinion into two fairly equal camps.
A spokesperson for Callington Town Council said: “We are incredibly proud that our town is very dog friendly. Together with our neighbouring councils, there are a myriad of areas where dog owners can exercise their pets. Kit Hill Country Park, Kelly Bray woods, and Callington Newbridge offer a wealth of walks for dogs and their owners. In addition, we have 13 footpaths and dozens of country roads where dog owners can, and do, walk. We also have a large number of dog waste bins, emptied by Cornwall Council.
“We are also very proud that we have a number of play parks in the town. Like hundreds of parks across Cornwall and thousands of parks across the UK, these do have restrictions limiting access for dogs. This is done after advice from Public Health Cornwall to protect the health and wellbeing of children and young people.”
Mayor and portreeve of Callington Peter Watson said: “The proposal to establish a dog walking area on the Launceston Road Recreational field has been discussed twice and on both occasions has been rejected by the Council.
“The councillors’ concerns about this included public health issues, the potential risk to other users, in particular families and young children, and the potential costs which would fall on all parishioners (ie: an increase in local tax rate). All of these points taken together with the fact that other areas for the exercising of dogs are available within the parish and in the immediate vicinity, the council did not feel it was in the interests of the majority of parishioners to support the proposal.”
But Cllr Ward argues strongly against the reasons given to keep dogs completely off the local parks, and has the back-up of local vets about the danger of toxocariasis.
“The other town councillors are against this because of dog owners not picking up after their dogs. They don’t seem to realise that a dog friendly space could actually help, in containing it to a smaller area, and encouraging people to take more of a pride in their amenities.
“They brought up other crazy reasons such as children going blind from dog faeces. This is more prevalent in third world countries, it’s considered extremely rare indeed and only dogs that are not wormed could cause this, the faeces needs to be more than three weeks old and either eaten or rubbed into the eyes...really unlikely scenarios!”
Cllr Ward has raised the fact that other towns and villages in South East Cornwall, such as Liskeard and Launceston, have parks that include dog walking areas. She’s also pointed out that the dog exclusion order in Callington’s parks does not apply to assistance dogs. I had a local resident tell me that she is unable to exercise her son’s assistance dog so I raised this with the council, and they said they will get the signage corrected.”
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