Town Councillors have voted unanimously to replace “No Dogs Allowed” signs at sports grounds in Bradley Stoke after residents claimed the wording was contradictory to the Council’s longstanding official policy of allowing responsible owners to exercise their pets at the sites.
New signs reading “Responsible Dog Owners Welcomed” will now be installed in their place.
The matter came to the fore last month after regular dog walkers, including a Town Councillor, noticed that a new “No Dogs Allowed” sign had been erected on the gate into the car park of the Baileys Court Activity Centre.
The Town Council insisted its policy was “not to ban dogs” but said the sign acted as “back up” for staff when dealing with irresponsible dog owners who did not pick up after their pets.
A petition against the sign was raised (attracting 51 signatures) and dog walker Cllr Roger Avenin tabled the matter at last month’s meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee.
At the meeting, Cllr Rob Jones reiterated that the Council didn’t have a “no dogs” policy and said that although the sign was new, the wording on it was no different from that on a previous sign, which had been in position for the past 14 years. To prove the point, the previous sign (photo, right) was exhibited to the meeting by the Council’s Facilities Manager John Rendell.
The sign had been replaced because the Town Council’s telephone number, displayed on the sign, has changed as a result of the recent move into new offices at the Jubilee Centre.
Around a dozen dog walkers attended the meeting and they were given a chance to have their say before the formal proceedings got underway. Several questioned why the sign was necessary if the Council’s policy is to allow dogs. In any case, “irresponsible” owners wouldn’t take any notice of it, one added.
One resident said littering of the site by teenagers was more of a problem than dog fouling and asked why the Council hadn’t put up a sign forbidding that.
Another pointed to the presence of a similar “No Unauthorised Ball Games” sign at Baileys Court and asked if that meant that young people and families were forbidden from taking part in informal games. Mr Rendell explained that the sign was intended to counter unauthorised football matches and training sessions that have been known to take place after pitches have been declared unfit for use, leading to them becoming “wrecked”.
Introducing the matter for formal debate, Cllr Avenin described the “No Dogs Allowed” sign currently in place at Baileys Court Activity Centre as “contradictory”. Rather than banning dogs, more effort should be made to educate the irresponsible dog owners to pick up after their pet, he added.
Following discussion, Councillors voted unanimously that the wording on the sign be changed to “Responsible Dog Owners Welcomed”.
Concerns expressed by residents about how some members of the public walking dogs have been spoken to by cricketers are to be raised with Bradley Stoke Cricket Club by Cllr Paul Hardwick.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Avenin said:
“I am sure that all dog walkers are pleased to note that the Council will now adopt new signage which will be consistent with the [other] signs currently displayed at this field and with the dog bins provided.”
“The field is popular with many dog owners the vast majority of whom are wholly responsible and who strive to maintain this resource in as pristine condition as possible.”
“This decision surely represents a win for common sense.”
Fellow Baileys Court dog walker Tom Adkins, who had originally alerted The Journal to the issue, added:
“This is really great news and, as Roger said, common sense has prevailed. Resources are at a premium in Bradley Stoke South and so we all must respect and work with each other and with a limited open space as this field is, we must share.”
Photo 1: Dog walker Tom Adkins (with Charlie) pictured by the “contradictory” sign that is to be reworded.
Photo 2: Dog walkers Kevin Wedlock (with Rossi) and Tom Adkins (with Charlie) welcome the Council’s decision.
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