Column in the Barry & District News by Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP:
Many readers will be aware of the anger and frustration many of us felt over some restrictions proposed on dog owners in order to help prevent dog fouling.
I am delighted to say that as a community, we are making positive progress and that those decision makers are listening to us.
For some time, I have been engaged with dog owners across the Vale to support their campaign to tackle dog fouling in a fair and balanced way.
Some proposals suggested a hammer to crack a nut!
The dog controls, otherwise known as Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), potentially limit areas where dogs can be walked, with or without a lead. However there has been a lack of understanding and communication on what changes would be made and how they would work.
Within days of news breaking that there could be changes introduced, a number of campaign groups were created and grew rapidly as people demonstrated their strong feelings on the matter.
Many of us met to call for changes and Facebook groups formed very quickly.
Residents held concerns that the controls would mean that dogs would no longer be allowed off their leash in certain areas and banned from other areas entirely. The issue energised many people locally, as it impacts the everyday lives of dog owners across the Vale.
I recognise that limits on where people can walk their dogs has a major impact on both dogs and their owners.
That’s why I have met with as many campaigners as possible to find out their views, encourage them to engage with the consultation process and represent them in my conversations with the Council.
Following the end of the public consultation on proposed dog controls, I met with representatives at the Vale Council to discuss their findings and their approach going forward. I also took members from the campaign groups along to the meeting with me, having already met and held discussions with community campaigners.
At the meeting we engaged in an open and honest discussion about how things need to proceed.
The Council made clear that they are not aiming to make money out of the changes but simply aim to combat the issue of dog fouling. The campaigners, who are responsible dog owners, are entirely sympathetic to the need to deal with dog fouling but want to ensure that areas for dog walking are not reduced.
I’m very pleased that, as a result of our meeting, the Council and dog owners will be working closely together to ensure that they can find a fair and reasonable way forward. The Council have agreed to meet regularly with campaigners who can provide ongoing feedback on works and what doesn’t.
They will continue to talk about how responsible dog owners can work with the Council to promote best practice and what further changes may be needed.
I’m now more confident that there will be a constructive approach to this matter and that when the Council publish their findings in October that they will reach a more favourable outcome for dog owners across the Vale.