Daft dog plans are littered with confusion

THERE is only a sliver of reassurance in Camden Council s promise to listen carefully to people s views on new dog law proposals and its commitment to take decisions only after the most careful consideration. What is needed more than anything is a complet

THERE is only a sliver of reassurance in Camden Council's promise to listen carefully to people's views on new dog law proposals and its commitment to take decisions only after the most careful consideration.

What is needed more than anything is a complete U-turn on an ill-conceived exercise which would be best dealt with by the timely use of a poop scoop and disposal in the time-honoured fashion.

In a letter to this newspaper, council leader Keith Moffitt and the executive member for the environment, Cllr Mike Greene, do their best to justify the process, stating that the proposals are not about penalising responsible dog owners, and pledging to introduce any new powers in a proportionate way.

The problem is that no-one believes this. Their 'trust in us' statement is reminiscent of the council's position when new parking control regulations were introduced, and look what happened there! No-one from the council was standing up then and saying that the real intention was to pursue motorists with missionary zeal and turn parking control into a lucrative revenue stream.


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It all went wrong because responsibility for enforcement was delegated to private companies for whom profit is everything, and consequently all public faith in the system was sacrificed. The fact that some councillors who resolutely defended the system in the face of massive public protest were themselves hung out to dry at last May's election, should serve as a salutary lesson.

But even if the council enforced its proposals fairly and diligently, the scheme will not operate with the level of public support that is essential. Funnelling dog owners into designated exercise areas is a recipe for chaos.

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And while the idea of keeping dogs away from children's play areas is sensible, other aspects are unworkable. Does 'catering areas' mean outdoor tables at cafes and pubs? Does the restriction on 'sports areas' apply even when those areas are not being used, which is most of the time? Will conservation areas and monuments be fenced off with warning signs?

How could any owner reasonably be expected to ensure that their pets will not sniff around plants and shrubbery in open spaces, or be attracted to water features and ponds?

The real mystery is, why does this particular council feel the need, in the year 2007, to interfere with what has been a perfectly acceptable social pursuit for time immemorial?

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