West Hampstead dog walkers campaign for park following ‘busybody’ leash rule

Dog walkers have launched a campaign to encourage Camden Council to set up a dedicated park for them

Dog walkers have launched a campaign to encourage Camden Council to set up a dedicated park for them to exercise their pets. Picture: JILL HENRY - Credit: Archant

Dog owners are campaigning for a park of their own after they became the latest victims of the “busybodies charter”.

Hampstead Cemetery. Picture: David Howard, Flickr.

Hampstead Cemetery. Picture: David Howard, Flickr. - Credit: Archant

Jill Henry and fellow walkers who exercise their furry friends in Hampstead Cemetery became aware they could be barred from the Fortune Green Road graveyard after spotting dog patrol officers lurking among the headstones.

Ms Henry – who walks her Cavalier King Charles and poodle cross Zoe at the cemetery daily – along with other walkers was told by the patrolling officials that a new law had been brought in following complaints about dogs trampling and fouling on graves.

Camden introduced public space protection order (PSPO) powers last year, giving it powers to demand dogs stay on leads on council-managed land, though not in council parks.

PSPO control measures have been dubbed the “busybodies” charter because they let councils ban minor activities deemed anti-social. After the cemetery PSPO pet owners argued they should be given a space to let their dogs run free off the lead.

Ms Henry said: “We’ve got a fantastic dog-walking community in Fortune Green we want to keep together. We’ve been walking at the cemetery for years. We need a safe space for our dogs.”

Recruitment business owner Ms Henry set up a petition calling on Camden Council to provide a dedicated ‘dog park’ which after a week has already gained 600 signatures. The campaigner has even resorted to collecting signatures whilst on the CS11 bus.

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“We want to show Camden there’s tremendous support for a dog park,” Ms Henry explained.

According to Ms Henry campaigners saw off Camden’s bid to force owners to keep dogs on leads at the back of the cemetery in 2007 arguing they were the ‘eyes and ears’ in a place at risk from anti-social behaviour if emptied of walkers.

Ms Henry, of Fortune Green, argued alternative walks such as Hampstead Heath were out of reach for some pensioners and people with reduced mobility.

Cllr Adam Harrison, Camden’s environment chief, said: “As long as walkers respect the cemetery, they are of course still welcome to take their dogs there. We value all park users and recognise the majority of dog walkers as responsible. We are happy to listen to any groups, including those who have arranged the petition for a dog exercise area.”

To sign the petition visit change.org