Give Dogs off-lead areas in parks where they can run free and socialise. Give Dog Owners a formal Voice in Park Consultations. Amend Dog Control Orders 2005/07/13 in consultation with Dog Owners
This petition had 3,824 supporters
The Councillors of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) and Hammersmith & Fulham, have recently approved an amendment to the Dog Control Order that:
a. dogs must be kept on leads on: Any land within the administrative area of RBKC which is open to the air, including covered land which is open to the air on at least one side and to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access with or without payment
b. All public roads, adjoining footways and verges
Public consultation will commence shortly and if passed, will leave no doubt that dogs must be kept on leads anywhere in the open air at any time.
In March 2013, RBKC dog-owning and other residents wrote to object against the enormous Opera Holland Park Theatre Marquee from becoming a “permanent” structure. This site is very valuable commercially, and there is already a commercial million-pound development at the bottom of the park. The objection resulted in the time the marquee being erected, reduced from 12 months to 6.5. Until recently dogs were allowed to play and socialise on Holland House Terrace.
In December 2013, a unilateral decision was made by Inspector Rumble of the Parks Police to place “Dogs on Leads” on Holland House Terrace without consultation. The excuse of “dog fouling” was given. Dog fouling is categorically NOT a problem in that area.
Now a new reason has been given of “complaints by other park users who have objected to loose dogs coming up to them when they are taking their lunch”. This has not been witnessed by the regular daily users of that area, and in fact people on benches happily interact with the dogs, especially young children. How soon before samples of dog poo are photo-shopped as “evidence”?
We dog owners are extremely concerned by these recent dog-unfriendly overtures approved by the current councillors and enacted by the Parks Police, without consultation.
If there is dog fouling it is a tiny anti-social minority, whose dogs are known by the larger Dog owning community. One badly behaved dog because of an irresponsible owner or dog walker, should not catalyse draconian dog rules for all dogs, without at least a democratic consultation with dog owners.
There is much scientific evidence regarding the health benefits of owning a dog; dog-owners appreciate the unconditional love given by a dog and reciprocate in kind. For urban dogs, it is essential that they have some safe areas in parks where they can run free, to socialise from young, and be trained. Where else can they do this when open woodland or forest is not on many Londoner’s doorsteps?
It is in everybody’s interests to have well-behaved, well-socialised dogs, therefore every park should provide a substantial protected area where dogs can run freely, and a separate smaller area for dog training off-leash.
Dog owners are an active part of the community, we are the highest, most frequent consistent users of the park – we take our charges to the parks 3 to 4 times a day. We are the eyes of the park, and should be appreciated by the Parks Police as such.
A resident highlights to Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP and the Councillors:
"These sorts of restrictions might be expected in other countries where
anything that smacks of untidiness or indiscipline cannot be tolerated.
However, in this country we have long had a tradition of tolerance where
the liberties of the individual take priority over the desire of tidy
minds to control our actions. Obviously that puts an obligation on the
individual to respect the liberties of others but it is a form of give
and take that we have successfully made work for hundreds of years. I
have walked dogs in Holland Park for many years and have always noted
how well the vast majority of dogs are controlled whilst still being
allowed the freedom to run and play. Dog faeces are not a problem because
almost all owners are responsible and have consideration for others.
Claire Rai, Head of Community Safety, states that the Parks Police have
received a number of complaints from park users about dogs and that
appears to justify a change in the regulations. Again, a tidy mind will
seek a solution for every problem however minor it is and I am sure that
one could find someone to complain about almost everything, particularly
if one has a tendency towards the curmudgeonly. Of course dogs should
not be allowed to bother people and if they do the people concerned have
a right to express their displeasure but that does not translate into a
need for more control.
Can you please be an active voice for the freedom of the individual
against the desire of those who would tidy everything away. London is a
messy, muddled place but that is what gives it the vibrancy we all
enjoy. Freedoms are too easy to limit but those limitations are seldom
I have addressed these remarks to our Councillors as well in the hope
that they will appreciate that nanny doesn't always know best and that
they should think very carefully before they entertain any moves to
restrict the freedom of the individual in even the most minor way."
We appeal to anyone who loves dogs, to sign and share this petition that the Councillors of RBKC & Hammersmith will:
1. Democratically consult with Dog Owners, and FODIP “Friends of Dogs In Parks” ahead of the 10 year Master Plan for Holland Park and all parks in the Boroughs, giving Dogs owners a formal Voice in Parks.
2. Preserve the already very limited existing places where dogs can run safely and socialise off leash
3. Create in the parks an additional off-lead space where dogs can be trained off lead by responsible dog trainers
4. Nationally promote good and responsible dog ownership, and safe spaces in urban parks where dogs can run leash-free, enabling them to be well-socialised and trained in as natural an environment as possible in towns and cities.
5. For Dog owners to have a formal Voice in all Parks nationally.
Please write to:
Councillor Deborah Collinson (Holland Ward)
Councillor Rock Feilding-Mellen (Holland Ward and Deputy Leader of the Council)
Councillor Warwick Lightfoot (Holland Ward and Mayor 2005 – 2006)
Claire Rai, Head of Community Safety, London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham email@example.com
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