Councillor cries foul over park dog ban email

COUNCILLOR Davie Paterson has expressed fears that a new campaign aimed at dog fouling on play areas could lead to a complete ban in Wilton Lodge Park.

The local member says a new advert launched by Scottish Borders Council urging dog walkers to ensure their pets do not foul on sports fields and playgrounds – depicting a sports referee showing a dog a red card – has led to a suggestion that dogs could eventually be prohibited from such areas.

Although such a move has been denied by SBC, an email leaked by Mr Paterson sent from environmental services boss Len Wyse as part of a discussion about the campaign, which states “The department is looking into how we can introduce a Borders wide ban on folk ‘exercising their dogs on playing fields and play parks’ “, is ringing alarm bells for the West End councillor.

He told the Hawick News: “That email was sent from Councillor Wyse to all councillors, so people will see why I was a bit concerned by the statement. He does make it quite clear. I would hate to think that this Administration was trying to stop folk taking their dogs up the park. I personally think the department should be encouraging more folk to use our parks, not talk about putting a ban on responsible dog owners.”

The council’s anti-dog fouling campaign newsletter for July does highlight their aims to keep dogs dirt off sports fields and playgrounds, but a spokesperson has stressed there are no plans to make parks prohibited areas.

They told the Hawick News: “I can confirm the council has not recommended a dog ban in such areas. We are, however, aiming a new campaign at trying to raise awareness of this issue and encouraging owners to pick up after their dogs at all times.

“This is in response to the issue of dog fouling being left on parks and playing fields that are often used by schools, as well as other groups of children and adults for sports use. We would suggest that if there are alternative dog walking areas close by, SBC and the people using such areas would obviously rather dog owners used the alternatives.”

But although welcoming the newsletter and the campaign’s efforts, Hawick councillor Stuart Marshall says he also thinks the wrong people are being targeted.

He commented: “I think it’s high time we concentrate more on hitting those offenders with on the spot fines and stop trying to educate them, after all I think those who allow their dogs to foul are repeat offenders who certainly wont listen to anyone who tries to educate them.”

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