Sports pitch dog ban falls foul of law

Councillor Davie Paterson
Councillor Davie Paterson
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HAWICK councillor and environmental boss Davie Paterson has admitted that the local authority is powerless to stop dog fouling on sports pitches.

Mr Paterson was speaking following a meeting of the full council at St Boswells yesterday when a motion put forward by Kelso member Tom Weatherston calling for a by-law banning dogs from all the region’s sports pitches, was withdrawn for legal reasons.

Although Councillor Paterson strongly condemns fouling on areas where sport is played, the Hawick and Hermitage member says any such ban would have placed Scottish Borders Council on the wrong side of the law.

He told the Hawick News: “It is not against the law for people to walk their dogs on sports pitches so it would be very hard for us to implement any kind of ban. We can’t do that and in fact we would be breaking the law if we tried to. Only the government has the power to do that.”

Councillor Paterson says that it is not against the law for a dog to foul on a sports pitch, that a crime is only committed once the owner of the animal does not clean it up.

He went on: “The motion at the council was withdrawn because it would have been deemed to be incompetent, it would not have been possible. Our hands are tied unless Holyrood actually changes the legislation.”

And Mr Paterson has warned against any further moves which would ban dogs from parks altogether, stating: “I am very much against any suggestion of a complete ban from parks, even though those who let their dogs foul are disgraceful, they are in a minority.”

He added: “Hawick people are very proud of their park and it gives huge benefits to so many who walk their dogs there, that would be the last thing I want. But maybe now we need to see if the Scottish Government can help us with it and get something done.”

A motion is being redrafted for a future meeting.