Dog owners mad about plans to create a pet-free area at Himley Park

The grassed area between the main gate and west gate - which is a popular exercise spot for pooches - will be off limits for those with four legs from February 1 as Dudley Council hopes to encourage families to enjoy picnics at the park.

But picnickers are few and far between, according to John and Claire Harris from Dudley, who use the park daily to exercise their seven-year-old German Shepherd Kaiser.

Mr Harris said: "We have been coming here for years and most of the year you don't see people picnicking unless there are events or the weather is good. On days like today, you won't see anyone except walkers and dog walkers.

"What makes us angry is that we can't use the majority of the park anyway come November and December because of the bonfire and after that the mess is unreal."

He continued: "If a dog is on a lead, the owner is in control of it so it's not going to be a nuisance. What they should do is have all dogs on leads and introduce bigger fines for the owners who don't clean up the mess, that would change everything."

Tracey Bowen, who exercises her two dogs Pringle and Pip on the soon-to-be picnic spot on a daily basis, as it is quieter than other areas of the park.

She said: "It's a shame that a minority of dog owners aren't responsible enough to clean up after their dog - that is what has caused this.

"It's going to be more difficult when the ban comes in as you will have more and more dogs congregating in one place.

"The council are also going to lose income from the dog walkers that are paying for parking passes.

"I might have to think about renewing my parking permit in April."

She continued: "I can understand they want an area for picnickers but knowing the park as I have done over the years, you don't get many people having picnics on that area.

"The ideal area would be the small space they use as an overflow car park when it gets busy."

Kingswinford resident Joanna Noble, who uses the park weekly with her children and dogs, added: "I'm absolutely appalled, the bloody geese make more of a mess.

"If they want picnickers, then put tables up.

"We certainly won't be going back if they go through with this."

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “The grounds of Himley Hall are used by lots of people throughout the year for a variety of reasons, and we have to make sure we cater for everyone.

"As the spring months approach we are looking to encourage more people and families to enjoy picnics and other relaxing pursuits in these lovely grounds.

"While dog walkers are free to exercise their pets in the vast majority of the open space, we are looking to provide a small pet-free area for other enjoyment.I am sure people will understand this and appreciate the need to cater for everyone.”


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