Dogs on Leads Order finally gets approval

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The council has approved the final piece of its new dog control legislation, despite a last-ditch effort to have the issue referred back to the Environment Committee for a third time.

The controversial Dogs on Leads Order, which has been the subject of two public consultations, has divided opinion within the council chamber.

On Monday evening at the monthly meeting of full council, councillors Victor Robinson and John Scott, who both have specific concerns about dogs being allowed to run free on the Newtownabbey Way and along the coastal path between Jordanstown and Gideon’s Green, attempted to have part of the proposed legislation referred back to the committee for further consideration.

Councillor Robinson said that the views of people who are afraid of dogs and people with young children must be taken into account “in the interests of fairness”, stressing that dog owners have extensive areas of the borough’s parks in which to exercise their pets off-lead.

Councillor Scott pointed out that there are more than 88,000 people living in the borough and claimed that “the majority have been forgotten about or not even thought about”.

Several other members argued that the issue had been debated fully at the Environment Committee meeting on June 10, and that the decision had been taken democratically and should be ratified.

Councillor Robinson’s proposal that the issue be referred back to committee was defeated on a recorded vote 9 - 7, with one abstention.

A number of members of the Newtownabbey Dog Walkers lobby group, who campaigned for several months to maintain the right to walk their dogs off-lead on the coastal path and Newtownabbey Way, were in the public gallery to watch proceedings.

On Tuesday, the group issued a statement saying they were “thrilled” by the council’s decision.

“It is wonderful to know that responsible dog owners are still entitled to the freedom of choice to walk their dogs off-lead in our parks. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support, especially those councillors who robustly supported our campaign. We look forward to sharing the parks with all - pedestrians young and old, dog walkers and cyclists, showing due consideration one to another.”

For more information about the borough’s new dog control legislation, including details of areas where dogs are no longer permitted or must be kept on leads, log on to www.newtownabbey.gov.uk