Public anger as revised dog restrictions for Tilgate Park are agreed

‘Absolutely crazy’ was the call from the public gallery after Crawley Borough Council agreed that dogs should be kept on the lead in parts of Tilgate Park.
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Plans for a Public Space Protection Order covering Tilgate Lake, the Peace Garden, lawn area and the golf course were approved on Wednesday (July 20).

The subject proved emotive, with several members of the public speaking against the plans and often making their annoyance clear during the debate.

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The call for a PSPO started last year when the council received a petition after a dog was attacked by another, which was not on a lead.

Revised areas of Tilgate Park where dogs will have to be kept on a leadRevised areas of Tilgate Park where dogs will have to be kept on a lead
Revised areas of Tilgate Park where dogs will have to be kept on a lead

While recognising that most dog owners acted responsibly when out with their pets, councillors at the time recalled incidents of wildlife such as swans and deer being chased or attacked.

A report from council officers said 22 dog-related reports had been made to Sussex Police between 2018 and 2021.

Two public consultations into the PSPO attracted more than 2,800 responses, with 58.4 per cent (1,631 people) opposing the plans.

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During the meeting, there were calls from the public for the numbers to be honoured and the plans dropped.

David Lightfoot, of Furnace Green, said: “If any of you believe in democracy, is it not the case that you should be putting into place the will of the people who were consulted?

“They’ve told you clearly that they don’t want it and that is what should be respected.”

An amendment asking for the golf course to be removed from the PSPO was tabled by Conservative group leader Duncan Crow.

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Mr Crow worried that the council would make ‘a dog’s breakfast’ of the process and pointed out that including the golf course would stretch the PSPO over a wide area, making enforcement more difficult.

His suggestion, though, was voted down by 19 votes to 11 with one abstention.

Calls for a third public consultation also failed.

Council leader Michael Jones told the meeting that there would still be 241 acres in the park where dogs could run off the lead.

The PSPO will come into effect later this year once the signage is installed.

It will apply every day of the year and last for three years.

Anyone found breaching it will be subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100.