‘Dog fouling figures show no need for ban from pitches’

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The row over the council’s proposed new Dog Control Orders continues to rumble on, with campaigners claiming the local authority has “no basis in fact” for introducing part of the new legislation.

The Lisburn is Barking Mad lobby group, which is opposed to plans to ban dogs from being off-lead on the pitches in Wallace Park during the football season, recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council asking about the level of dog fouling in the park.

The council’s reply reveals that there have been no fixed penalties issued and no prosecutions taken for dog fouling in Wallace Park in the last 12 months - figures which, the objectors claim, show there is no need for Dog Control Orders.

“The council should be ashamed of its unwarranted persecution of ratepaying, voting dog walkers and their dogs. The council has no evidence, by its own admission, and thus no grounds for the introduction of these proposed Dog Control Orders,” a spokesperson for the group said.

“They are obviously working to their own agenda. Why are they trying to bring in this unnecessary and draconian initiative at ratepayers’ expense?”

More than 1,000 people signed a petition objecting to the proposed dog controls, with hundreds more having registered their opposition online on the change.org website.

With its public consultation on the draft Dog Control Orders having closed on April 20, the local authority has stressed that no final decisions have yet been made.

Outlining the argument for keeping dogs off the pitches, a council spokesperson said: “Dog faeces left on pitches is an ongoing issue. This issue has been raised via comments on the council’s social media platforms, with other views and opinions expressed as well.

“The council appreciates the efforts of responsible owners who pick up after their dogs, but unfortunately this is not the case with all owners.

“Parks and open spaces are for everyone’s enjoyment. The council appreciates that this is an emotive subject. All responses to the consultation will be considered in full.

“Consultation feedback will be presented to the Dog Control Working Group and the council’s Environmental Services Committee before any final decision is made.”

Meanwhile, the Lisburn is Barking Mad group have again questioned the council’s reasoning for moving the public consultation deadline from March 15 to April 20, pointing to council figures showing that of the 1,170 responses received before the original deadline, more than 1,000 were signatures on petitions of objection.

While the campaigners claim the council extended the public consultation in a bid to garner more support for its plans, the local authority has denied that’s the case, claiming it took the decision “after it was informed that some residents were not aware it had commenced.”