We could be branded criminals just for walking our DOGS – we can't even use parks in our area without being fined | The Sun
FURIOUS residents have complained that they could be branded criminals just for walking their dogs as they can't use parks without being fined.
Disgruntled locals in Hove, East Sussex, blasted their council as “draconian” after it was revealed they could get a criminal record if caught walking their pets in a prestigious public gardens.
Brunswick Square – built in 1824 – is home to some of the most exclusive Regency homes in Hove.
Its picturesque gardens are surrounded by an-iron fence and the large manicured lawn is popular among picnickers, walkers and yoga practitioners.
But a little known by-law means it is actually a criminal offence to walk your dog in Brunswick Square Gardens.
As well as receiving a fine, you could also get yourself hit with acriminal record.
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Since 2011, all dogs – excluding guide dogs, hearing dogs and disabled support dogs – have been banned from the park under a public space protection order (PSPO).
And some residents have slammed the council for enforcing the “ridiculous” by-law and say it is “unfair” and “draconian.”
Paul Rushforth, 37, a music producer who walks his Staffordshire bull terrier on Hove Lawns opposite the gardens, said: “It’s ridiculous that you could earn yourself a criminal record simply by failing to see the signs which ban dog walkers.
“It seems a bit draconian to be honest. I completely understand the need for dog-free spaces and understand that fines should be issued to anyone guilty of allowing their dogs to foul in public parks but to get a criminal record by just walking your dog there is silly.”
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Jenny Harris, 75, who also walks her dog Pepper nearby, said: “How preposterous. It’s totally unfair.
"The council should concentrate on sorting out the other social problems that affect the residents of Brighton and Hove instead of enforcing pointless by-laws.
“I don’t agree with it at all. I understand that a fine might be appropriate but for it to be a criminal offence is draconian. I think it is a stupid thing to do.”
Kez Withers, 32, who walks her French bulldog, Harley, on Hove Lawns, said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. To focus on people walking their dog in the wrong place and making it a criminal offence is crazy.”
Kez, who works in music marketing, said: “There are so many other things that should be prioritised for their attention but this isn’t one of them.”
Her friend, George Buxton, a film costumer design whose most recent movie, How To Have Sex, has received rave reviews, said: “Everyone understands the need for dog free area but to get a criminal offence and fine seems like overkill to me.”
The gardens have several No Dogs signs both stuck to bins and also painted onto the pathway.
However no such ban exists for cats with one spotted sitting in front of a bin bearing a ‘No Dogs’ sign.
Brunswick Square resident, Anna Millyard, 46, said: “I live here and the fact dogs are not allowed in the gardens is well known. I knew dog walking was banned but I didn’t think you’d be guilty of a criminal offence. It’s too much.
“Dog walkers are generally respectful across Brighton and Hove."
Sarah Roberts, 45,an occupational therapist, said: “I can understand something like this for repeated littering offences but not for dog walking. It’s far too harsh.”
On Facebook the row intensified with some residents agreeing with the harsh penalties for breaking the rules.
Emma Thomas, who runs Ayurveda company Balance and Bloom Brighton, said: “I love dogs. Unfortunately the park near where I live has lots of dog poo on it so humans can’t sit in it. I have got it on me twice sitting down there and it’s really unpleasant.
“There are so many parks that dogs are allowed in – so I think it’s a good idea to have at least one park that humans can enjoy too without worrying about this.”
Coral, from Brighton, said: “You won’t be arrested but you will be fined by the council environment enforcement team if caught in the garden with a dog, due to a council-enforced bylaw.
"Having been fined, I don’t agree with the by-law, but these are the facts.”
Councillor Leslie Pumm, chairman of the council’s equalities, community safety and human rights committee, said: “As a dog owner, I understand the convenience of having a green space on your doorstep, and particularly for those of us without our own private outdoor space.
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“At the request of local residents, dogs are not allowed in the gardens of Brunswick Square and this has been the case for more than ten years.
“The signs we’ve put up in the square make this very clear. As an order is in place, it means taking your dog there is a criminal offence. Thankfully, there are plenty of other dog-friendly spaces in our city.”
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