Dogs could be banned from the Lawn in Queen Square if a trial period of ‘responsible dog walking’ fails to protect the trees within the small park from further canine damage.
The news comes in a letter sent to Bath’s Conservative General Election candidate Ben Howlett in response to his enquiries about how B&NES intended to protect the historic area from further attacks.
He has sent the contents on to the Virtual Museum of Bath. It came from Carol Maclellan – who is the Group Manager for Neighbourhood Environmental Services.
In it she says:
‘Further to your recent correspondence regarding the protection of trees in Queens Square, the main damage has been caused by irresponsible dog owners here. We have considered a range of options to address this – we are mindful of the need to protect the important tree stock whilst at the same time encouraging responsible use of the space.
Protecting the trees with a physical barrier (such as fences) would have a strong, negative, visual impact and would limit public access in what is a small space. Such a measure is felt to be inappropriate at this time. Alternatively we could choose to enforce bylaws and prohibit dogs from Queen Square completely, but it is felt that such a measure would unfairly penalise those who dog walkers who do use the space responsibly.
Instead, we will be introducing a trial period of promoting responsible dog walking in Queen Square (through new signs) from 2nd March and we will encourage users to report anti-social behaviour to the council’s environmental protection team.
We will also undertake surveillance of the square, working closely with local police, and we will challenge inappropriate behaviour. If necessary, we will seek to pursue prosecutions of those involved in anti-social behaviour in the space.
We will review the impact of the trial in June (2015) and if we are still concerned about anti-social behaviour associated with irresponsible dog owners in Queen Square, we will then seriously consider enacting bylaws to prohibit dogs from the space entirely. In the meantime, temporary measures to protect tree trunks will remain in place.’
Mr Howlett told the VMB that he did hope the trial period would resolve the issues.
Meanwhile Terry Basson, a longtime campaigner for action against the vandalism in Queen Square, has made public a letter he has now sent to Ben Howlett.
‘The reassurance given to you by B&NES is, in my opinion, nothing more than nonsense and complete waffle.
All last year I spent each Wednesday playing Pétanque on the Square, I observed wilful damage being done to the trees often in front of council workmen who immediately phoned their boss.
I played on for another hour, no one came to deal with the guy and his dog who had his dog off the lead ignoring the sign at the single entrance stating a hundred pounds penalty for doing so.
Many of the public including myself decided to ‘Have A Go’ at the drunken culprit. Police were involved. Sadly Mr Don Fosters’s office eventually advised me that that dog damage to the trees along with its owner are not committing an offence libel for prosecution. Thus the Police are powerless.
Throughout last year I was actively writing to many officials of the council about this same issue. I have watched at least three trees cut down because of ringbarking damage caused by the chewing dogs.
Well designed Estate railings around the tree trunks will not reduce the size of the park – what a ridiculous thing to suggest.
Last Wednesday on Queen Square doggy poos were all about on the grass and onto our shoes.
The council should accept their inability to police whatever signs they put up, so an outright ban on dogs in the park is sadly necessary. I note your recent article in ‘The Virtual Museum of Bath’ all of the pictures shown of dog damaged trees come from my camera.
So Ben, the band plays on for another full year of Queen Square dog waffle. The Authorities in our Historic City are makers of words which provide nothing like action at the coal face.’