If dog owners do not stop the fouling of the Fillace Park playing fields, the parish council will look into restricting their access.
The warning was the main result of a discussion at the council’s March meeting, on Tuesday this week (March 12).
Cllr Steve Roche said Horrabridge Rangers had 200 youngsters playing on the fields. And something had to be done, though it would not be popular.
He recalled that during Foot & Mouth in 2001, when dogs were not allowed on the moor, there were corridors marked alongside the footpaths in Fillace Park and dogs could use those spaces if their owners kept them on leads and cleaned up after them. He wondered if similar rules could be reintroduced.
He added that the 2014 Crime & Police Act had provision for Public Space Protection Orders, which might empower the council to impose a ban on dogs in the park, without going to the trouble and expense of a new by-law.
Cllr Andrew Moorhead said the council had to bear in mind that Fillace Park was a recreation ground for the whole village, not just for the football club, and dogs were already banned from Weir Park. But he agreed something had to be done. He undertook to look into the cost of providing poop-bag dispensers in Fillace Park. Meanwhile, he hoped the Horrabridge Times would broadcast a warning that the council would consider more restrictions on dogs unless there was an immediate improvement.
Council chairman Paul Beard, returning to the fray after missing some meetings for personal reasons, said Fillace Park was only part of a wider problem, which kept coming back as one of rhe council’s most difficult issues. It already cost over £1,200 a year to run the village’s 10 poop bins.
In other business, the council heard a quote of £350 for a new light in Fillace Park, attached to the pavilion, but decided to look at other options for positioning and to consult with neighbours before making a decision.
Cllr Mike Huda gave notice that Radio Walkham would be lookng for permission to use Weir Park on August 3 for a repeat of last year’s Party In The Park – a music festival which started with the parish council setting up a working party to add another event to the summer calendar, because the church’s summer fair always clashes with Armed Forces Day in Plymouth.
At this week’s meeting, Cllr Beard said the council would not want to get involved in an annual event organisation and he was happy to leave it to Radio Walkham to carry on with this one.
In response to a request from a member of the public, the council produced a record of spending from the capital projects pot of £100,000 which was raised by the sale of land for new housing at Walkham Meadows.
Cllr Roche said there was £77,720 left – plus a little to come back in reclaimable VAT – but £25,000 was provisionally ring-fenced for upgrading of the Fillace Park sports pavilion.
Cllr Doreen Keane wondered if some of the rest could be used for widening the path which runs from Walkhampton Road through Fillace Park into Weir Park. The council decided last month to spend several thousand pounds on improving wheelchair access to the parks – if they could get match-funding from a grant fund. They have failed to get the grant but the idea of path improvement is now on their agenda.
The general opinion was that the capital spending fund could only be spent on new projects, not improvements to existing assets. But the clerk was deputed to explore the possibilities.
A decision on whether to replace the handyman’s truck was deferred for further investigation.
The council decided to stay out of an argument about school buses churning up verges when turning at the top of Pencreber Road and elsewhere. They felt it was up to the bus company, Devon Highways, and the county education department, to work out a solution, and they did not want to start taking responsibility for patches of land they did not own.