Anger over dog controls at Tilgate Park, Crawley

“Absolutely insane” was the call from the stands after Crawley Parish Council approved that dogs should be kept on a leash in parts of Tilgate Park.

Plans for a public space protection order that includes Tilgate Lake, the Peace Garden, the lawn and the golf course were approved during a full council meeting on Wednesday (July 20).

The issue proved emotional, with several members of the public speaking out against the plans, often venting their anger during the debate.

The call for a PSPO began last year when the council received a petition after a dog was attacked by another off-leash dog.

Despite recognizing that most dog owners acted responsibly when out and about with their pets, councilors at the time recalled incidents of wildlife such as swans and deer being chased or attacked, while one revealed his daughter was bitten by a dog who ran out of the lake.

A report from the council’s head of community services says 22 dog-related reports were made to Sussex Police between 2018 and 2021.

Two public consultations on the PSPO resulted in more than 2,800 responses, with 58.4 percent (1,631 people) opposing the plans.

During the meeting there were calls from the public to comply with the numbers and drop the plans.

Furnace Green’s David Lightfoot said: “If any of you believe in democracy, isn’t it the case that you should implement the will of the people who have been consulted?

“They made it clear to you that they don’t want it and that should be respected.”

While one citizen accused the council of discriminating against dog owners, another asked why the golf course was included in the PSPO.

There was even a suggestion that signage for the course, urging people to keep their dogs on leashes, had been created before a vote even took place – although this has been disputed by leader Michael Jones.

An amendment calling for the golf course to be removed from the PSPO was tabled by Conservative leader Duncan Crow.

Mr Crow feared the council would turn the process into a “dog breakfast” and pointed out that including the golf course would stretch the PSPO over a wide area, making enforcement more difficult.

However, his proposal was defeated by a vote of 19 to 11, with one abstention.

Calls for a third public consultation also failed.

Mr Jones told the meeting there would be 241 more acres in the park for dogs to walk off leash.

He added: “It’s not an absolute dog ban. People can still bring their dogs to Tlgate Park. It’s just that in some areas you have to make sure they’re on a leash.

“This is for the safety of other people and wildlife in these areas. I don’t think this is unreasonable.

“There will still be many areas where people can exercise their dogs off-leash outside of those areas.”

His words were greeted with a roar from the stands: “You should be ashamed of yourselves – this is not a democracy”.

The PSPO will come into effect later this year once the signage is in place.

It applies every day of the year and lasts for three years.

Anyone found breaching them will be subject to a fixed fine of £100. Anger over dog controls at Tilgate Park, Crawley

Fry Electronics Team

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