Anger at dog lead ruling

Heckington Windmill. EMN-150304-100807001
Heckington Windmill. EMN-150304-100807001

Angry dog walkers crowded into a packed parish council meeting last week to argue their rights against new signs put up on their village playing field.

In a heated open forum at Heckington’s parish council meeting on Monday last week, chairman Richard Higgs said there had been a lot of misinformation circulating the village regarding the rights of dog walkers on the fields. He reminded people that the land was purchased as playing fields, with grant aid from Sport England, and a condition was a ban on dogs. Mr Higgs said: “The new signs simply replace those that kept getting vandalised. The new signs differ in that the parish council have made a concession which allows dogs to be exercised on a lead around the perimeter of the fields.”

The restriction is there to minimise risk of dog fouling on pitches. There had been new regulations under the Dangerous Dogs Act and an “alarming” number of incidents recently with dogs off their leads attacking other dogs or worrying people. Without complying the parish risked losing the £30,000 Sport England grant, he said.

Coun Higgs agreed to put the matter on a future agenda after it was pointed out there was no reference to the law or a penalty on the signs.

One owner defended his right to let his dogs off the lead and run across the field, but Coun Terry Atkinson added: “Surely responsible dog owners understand that dogs off the leash shouldn’t roam playing fields designated for children.”