A U-TURN looks set to be made on the proposed dog ban at Leamington’s Newbold Comyn.
Following public outcry, Warwick District Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee, has changed its recommendation to extend a ‘dog exclusion order’ to the Comyn, to instead keeping Public Space Protection Orders across the district’s open spaces as they are.
The original report released in July, related to a review of the existing orders and was to be put to landowners, parish councils and other stakeholders in a pre-consultation. Among these was a recommendation to ban dog-walking at the former golf course – except along the path where they need to be on a lead.
The pre-consultation would have led to a wider public consultation but the report prompted outcry among dog walkers in the area.
They believed the changes were related to a ‘masterplan’ for the Comyn, which was home to a golf course until its closure in 2017. The draft masterplan includes an extension to the nature reserve, a pitch and putt, high ropes, outdoor climbing and zip wires, new visitor centre and cafe with football pavilion and cycle tracks.
Following the public backlash – including a petition with around 6,000 signatures – the committee decided the ‘misunderstanding and confusion’ caused by the outcry meant a fair consultation was no longer possible.
A new report has recommended no change to the current orders, which if agreed at a further meeting in October, would last for three years – subject to a wider council review.
Coun Judy Falp said: “As part of the legislation, in order to vary or amend any dog control orders, we must undertake a full and fair public consultation.
“At this time, due to the level of public feeling regarding the pre-consultation suggestions, we feel that we are unable to undertake a fair consultation in which all of the facts are known.
“As a result, the committee agreed to go back to the statutory consultants to ask their views on maintaining the dog orders as they are currently stand. Their views will then be fed back to the committee to make a final decision at their meeting in October.”
Other proposed changes included an extension to the ‘dogs on lead order’ at Warwick Racecourse, and a cap on how many dogs are allowed to be walked per person.
Campaigner Kate Pittel said: “We feel that a petition that attracted 6,000 signatures has been a very fair and comprehensive public consultation. They should read the comments from dog owners and non-dog owners about Newbold Comyn and our other green spaces across the district and take notice of what the community wants.”