26th Oct, 2020

Residents outraged over possible dog ban at a former golf course in Leamington

Catherine Thompson 8th Sep, 2020 Updated: 9th Sep, 2020

A BAN on dogs on Newbold Comyn in Leamington will be among possible changes discussed in an upcoming consultation.

Warwick District Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee agreed to the consultation as part of a review of public space protection orders across areas in the district.

The suggestions, including extending the ‘dog exclusion order’ to the former golf course – except along the path where they need to be on a lead – will be put to relevant landowners, parish councils and other stakeholders.

The results of the consultation, due at the end of September, will form part of a wider public consultation in late autumn.

But the proposed change has already prompted an outcry among residents who regularly walk their dogs there.

These latest discussions follow the unveiling of a draft masterplan, in March, for the Comyn, which was home to a golf course until its closure in 2017. Residents were asked for their views on the plan which 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 a variety of cycle tracks.

Dog-owner Kate Pittel thinks the new plans are connected to the possible ban on dogs.

She said: “The golf course is well-used by everyone, but particularly dog walkers, and there is already growing outrage over these proposals. My feeling is is that it’s all part of their ‘master plan’ for Newbold Comyn and that it’s easier to ban dogs altogether now.

“Dog walkers are the largest group of users here and a ban would discriminate against a big section of the community. It’s a public space that was left to Leamington Town Council for all users but Warwick District Council wants to turn it into a commercial venture, in which dogs and their owners play no part.

“A ban will also have a negative impact on the many small local dog walking businesses who operate in the area.”

A petition has been launched by residents against the proposals, and has since gathered nearly 5,000 signatures.

The petition takes into account other proposed changes around dog walking including 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.

Ms Pittel, who is a member of community group Friends of St Mary’s Lands – the 150 acre site which includes the racecourse – added many of the group’s members were dog-walkers and took ‘strong exception’ to the ‘draconian proposals’.

Warwick District Council has declined to comment on the issue.

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