Dogs on leads on Tarka Trail
NDC plan to clamp down on anti-social behaviour with strict new measures that will affect dog owners in North Devon.
Sections of the Tarka Trail attract a mixed group of visitors including walkers, cyclists, dog walkers, runners, wheelchair and pushchair users. In the warmer summer months, sections of the trail can get quite busy, but for most people, most of the time, accommodating other users is not a problem.
However, occasionally problems do arise and North Devon Council are proposing plans to address these problems with strict new restrictions on dog owners. They are currently in the process of consulting with the public on plans that could adversely affect dog owners as they suggest introducing an enforced policy of dogs on leads at all times on the Tarka Trail and throughout all publicly accessible places in North Devon, both council and privately owned, with a potential fine of up to £100 for failing to comply.
The presence of dogs “off lead” on the Tarka Trail can be dangerous and a cause of nuisance to other users of this popular walking / cycling trail and so restrictions to ensure that the presence of dogs does not interfere with the enjoyment of other users of the trail could be imposed, which include:
- prohibiting the presence of dogs “off lead” on the Tarka Trail.
- issue FPNs’ of £100 to people who walk or exercise their dogs ‘off lead’ on the Tarka Trail
- require a person to place their dog(s) on a lead of 2.0m length or less, as directed
- issue FPNs’ of £100 to people who do not place their dog on a lead of 2.0m length or less when directed by a suitable delegated person / Officer
The same proposals apply to all publicly accessible open spaces throughout the whole of North Devon including all beaches and the Braunton Burrows, leaving North Devon dog owners and visitors with no option but to travel outside of the region to enjoy walking with their dog off-lead.
Other proposals include banning dogs from public areas such as children’s play areas and cemeteries.
When the proposals were made public through news and social media websites, the public’s response was largely confusion. People could not understand why dogs were described as ‘dangerous’ or even ‘a nuisance’. Some responses were quite irate siting speeding cyclists as a greater danger to safety than dogs.
Others offered a more practical view and pointed out that a 2m lead could pose more of a risk to safety than the dog itself. The local tourist trade could be affected too as a large percentage of seasonal visitors are looking for dog-friendly accommodation and they may look elsewhere.
NDC have made it clear that their intention is not to victimise dog owners, or visitors to North Devon. Their intention is to deal with anti-social behaviour including dog fouling, aggressive dogs or irresponsible dog ownership.
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