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By Haddenham Webteam - 1st September 2014 10:00pm
At a lively and occasionally heated meeting on Monday evening, 1st September, Haddenham Parish Council approved the new Dog Control orders by the slimmest of majorities.
This followed inputs and comments from a substantial group of local members of the public, who (in contrast to the usual pattern) were invited to offer their thoughts *before* the Councillors debated the issues and came to a vote.
The vast majority of the audience was clearly against the proposed Dog Control orders, and this was also true of much of the feedback received by the Council during the public consultation period (to read this feedback, see the PDF below image on this page).
Concerns were expressed about the need for such new controls, the difficulty in 'policing' them, and the validity of the public consultation process. There were also criticisms of the expenditure incurred by HPC in publishing the proposed new orders in the local press.
Among the Councillors present at the meeting, David O'Hanlon and David Lyons were most evidently supportive of the proposals. They explained that the need to publish such proposals in the local press was (and is) a legal requirement, but that other communication channels (in particular, the HPC website and Haddenham.net) had also been employed without financial cost.
They also felt that some of the feedback received from members of the public during the consultation period indicated that a significant proportion may not have read the specific details of the proposals before submitting their opinions to HPC.
They were also at pains to emphasise that the new Control Orders would simply reinforce the good practices of responsible dog owners and, in that respect, would make no practical difference to such owners — on the contrary, they would help to reduce the tendency for some residents to 'tar all dog owners with the same brush' when making complaints about dog fouling in children's play areas and recreational spaces.
Councillor Lindsey Poole was not against the principle of enacting Dog Control orders in the village, but was concerned that the new measures would be divisive.
Councillor Tim Armitt spoke passionately about his fear that the decision to enact the new Dog Control orders would be to ignore what he felt was the overriding majority view among members of the public.
Councillor Richard Moore was particularly critical of the public consultation process, and effectively threatened to resign from the Council if what he perceived to be the majority view of Haddenham residents was ignored.
Among the passionate inputs and multiple conversations, Chairman Margaret Aston struggled on occasions to maintain a well-ordered meeting. However, this did not prevent the Parish Council from concluding its discussions and conducting a formal vote.
New signs will be prepared and erected at strategic points in the village in the coming weeks to clarify the practical implications of the new Dog Control orders. In the meantime, the original documentation outlining the Dog Control order can be viewed here. Your website editor understands that the new Dog Control orders will not apply to the Old Station Play Area (Section 3. in the document) — that area has been dropped from the scope of the controls.