New proposals on dog control

Dog Control Order (Archive Picture).
Dog Control Order (Archive Picture).

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is to run a consultation on new proposals covering dogs on leads at Larne Town Park.

The decision was made during last week’s meeting of the local government authority’s Operational Committee.

In a report, members heard that the council is currently progressing dog control orders covering fouling, dogs on leads, dogs on leads on promenades, in cemeteries, and on beaches, and the exclusion of dogs from certain zones within Carnfunnock Country Park.

Separate consultation will take place on the times dogs can be walked off-lead in Carnfunnock, along with proposals to exclude the animals from a number of children’s play parks in the borough.

The orders currently being consulted on aim to “balance the needs of ratepayers and the needs of ratepayers who are dog owners,” members heard.

It follows a public outcry earlier this year after an initial pair of draft orders on dogs in children’s play parks and playing fields were deemed “draconian”.

These orders were withdrawn and are currently being reconsulted on.

However, two further proposals have been drafted on the suggestion of elected members, dealing with Larne Town Park and Marine Gardens in Carrickfergus.

While the planned dogs exclusion order covers the existing children’s play area at Larne Town Park, the proposed dogs on leads order would apply to the remainder of the seafront venue.

With draft legislation on Ballymena’s People’s Park out to consultation, the move aims to “ensure consistency in approach to enforcement across the ‘premier or destination’ parks within Mid and East Antrim Borough.”

“It is important to balance such a request with the legitimate need of dog owners for public space provision within the borough and more specifically within the locality of each park,” a members’ report added.

“Such an approach should provide greater clarity to members of the public as well as council enforcement staff.

Speaking after the meeting, Larne Lough councillor Mark McKinty said: “Whilst I understand there are issues about dogs within the area of children in open spaces, we need to adopt a more common-sense approach and perhaps allow the freedom within these areas would allow dog owners and others to make use of these spaces.

“I want to record my grave concerns about these particular areas potentially becoming permanent exclusion areas, but am happy to allow them to proceed to consultation stage to allow the public to have full say in the decision.”