Decision deferred on plan to ban dogs from playing pitches in Mid and East Antrim

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has deferred a decision on extending its Dog Control Orders which will ban pets from its pitches and other “playing surfaces”.

The new orders were on the agenda of the council’s Direct Services Committee meeting on Tuesday evening.

The extension will see dogs banned from council-owned playing surfaces including pitches multi-use games areas (MUGAs); golf courses and bowling greens etc if it is approved.

Dogs are already excluded from children’s play parks. This will now include Legg Park Play Park in Carrickfergus and Ahoghill Nature Play Park.

Dog friendly zones

It will also mean dogs must be kept on a lead at all times in car parks, allotments, marinas and paths.

The council has already ordered dogs to be kept on a lead in places such as cemeteries and Ballygally, Carnlough and Brown’s Bay beaches with the addition of Portmuck beach in Islandmagee.

Dogs will also have to be kept on a lead at Mid and East Antrim’s four war memorials and in car parks and grass areas adjacent to the borough’s promenades following the public consultation from October 10 until November 7 when there were 323 online surveys completed.

A number of Dog Control Orders were introduced by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in 2015 and 2016.

Larne War Memorial

Open Spaces

A report presented to the Direct Services Committee says: “The majority of comments received via social media from owners and users of our open spaces were supportive of the proposals.

“Many dog owners stated in their support that responsible dog owners should not have any issues with these proposals with others hoping these measures reduce the presence of dog foul on our paths and pavements.”

Speaking ahead of the meeting, committee member, Larne Lough Councillor Maeve Donnelly said: “Dog fouling continues to be an unwanted problem across Mid and East Antrim, so we have to do all we can to try and tackle the issue.

Brown’s Bay, Islandmagee.

“New council plans can only go so far, which is why only a joint approach will see any success. I would appeal to everyone to join the many responsible dog owners across our borough and pick up after their dog.”

Knockagh Ulster Unionist Cllr Andrew Wilson commented: “I welcome the public engagement by 323 residents with the draft Dog Control Orders consultation process which has outlined some gaps in implementation and enforcement.

“More funding and resources are still needed to help combat dog fouling, which is a result of the small minority of dog owners.

“I would also be keen to see the development of a stand-alone pet-friendly council facility in the area where dogs can run off the lead freely. I await a further report on these issues.”

Glenarm Marina.

Proposing a motion at last week’s meeting of Mid and East Antrim Council to tackle dog fouling, Carrickfergus Castle DUP Alderman Billy Ashe MBE asked officers to bring forward a strategy to “enforce and help to eradicate this health hazard and social problem once and for all”.

Strategic Approach

He urged the council to take a “strategic approach” and for officers to come back with proposals within a three-month period.

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Mid and East Antrim Council issued 71 fixed penalties for dog fouling during the first six months of 2022.

There were 199 complaints about dog fouling in the borough in 2021/22; 374 in 2020/21; 314 in 2019/20 and 351 in 2018/19.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter