PROTESTING dog owners in Coventry have won a partial last-minute u-turn over plans to keep their pets on leads in parks.
A huge 4,000-name petition is due to be presented to Coventry City Council’s ruling cabinet today following a protest at the Council House steps.
The council announced before the meeting that it had listened to the strength of feeling and would relax some of the new restrictions for dog walkers.
Councillors scrapped a proposal to ban dogs running freely off their leads anywhere in parks which contain sports pitches.
Dog owners would now only have to keep their pets on a lead around sports pitches during officiated games.
Other restrictions would still require dogs to be on leads around children’s play areas, green burial spaces, pavements and formal gardens.
The Dogs In Coventry campaign argued the proposals were an infringement on their freedoms to use public spaces, and that the changes were unnecessary.
Campaigner Val Williams said: “We would like the public consultation extended fuirther with representation from Dogs in Coventry and maybe a national organisation to discuss it further and lead to something that’s reasonable and not draconian.”
The council proposals did not follow any major concerns in Coventry, but new government legislation last year which gave local authorities new powers to introduce more dog control orders if they wished.
In addition to the petition, more than 1,000 people responded to the council’s public consultation.
Simon Brake, assistant director for communities and health, said: “There is clear concern from many residents, as well as parks and community groups, that banning people from letting their dogs off the lead on any council owned land where there’s a sports pitch is a disproportionate response to the level of problem that exists in the city.
“Many people thought that such measures would be unnecessarily punitive and limiting to dog walkers and their dogs, effectively preventing them from using a number of parks in their entirety, and might also be unenforceable.”
Counil deputy leader Phil Townshend said: “It is essential that public spaces like our parks and green spaces can be used and enjoyed by everyone, including responsible dog owners.
“We need to strike a balance which allows dogs to be exercised off leads in our parks in a way that doesn’t cause nuisance to others.
“We have received constructive and detailed representations from a number of individuals and organisations, and we have been clear throughout the process of consulting on and finalising the report to cabinet that we would listen to what Coventry people had to say on the issue.
“We are committed to listening to residents and their views, and I am pleased that we have brought forward proposals that address this issue.”