- Meeting of Decision Session - Executive Member for Environment and Climate Emergency, Wednesday, 9 February 2022 3.00 pm (Item 8.)
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It was reported that there had been 6 registrations to speak at the session under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme.
Jo Lindley spoke on item 4. Ms Lindley stated that the did not believe the area of the ballot undertaken by officers was large enough to properly represent the views of the community. She stated that she did not receive notification of the results of the ballot, which was promised by officers and that she wanted a quantification of the strength of feeling of the respondents. Ms Lindley further stated that the park was built as a public open space, not just for the use of immediately local residents and that dog walkers had been using the site for over 20 years. She argued that the fence provided benefits to York residents and that there were no good reasons for removing it.
Neil McLeay spoke on item 4. He stated that the park was labelled as a children’s play area in the original planning documents and that children had used the space for over 20 years without interference from dogs. Mr McLeay argued that in recent years, dog owners had been using the space within the fence so often as to make the space unsuitable for children. He argued that the process of the consultation was unsatisfactory and stated that a wider ballot was needed. Mr McLeay also left a written representation which he provided to the Executive Member and officers.
Paul Hannah spoke on item 4. He stated that he had lived in the area since 1989 and that there had been no issues around dogs until social media had encouraged dog walkers to visit the site. Mr Hannah brought a letter from a City of York Council Animal Health Officer dated 26 May 2004 confirming that the area was banned to dogs. He argued that footfall on his street had become untenable in recent years and that the people closest to the park were the most impacted, not the whole estate. He asked the Executive Member to honour the results of the ballot and expressed his concern about lack of communication from the Council.
Neville Murphy spoke on item 4. He stated that plans of the area when the estate was being built showed that the park was a children’s play area and that the fence was installed in place of play equipment, while arguing that the area had always been banned to dogs. He stated that signs banning dogs had been vandalised several times and that there were currently none in place. Mr Murphy argued that dog walkers predominantly arrived in cars and vans and were not usually residents of the estate, claiming that the large number of dog walkers stemmed from a Facebook group which encouraged people to use the site. He argued for the fence to be removed to discourage dog walkers.
Caroline Ryder spoke on item 4. She stated that she was a local resident and District Commissioner for Acomb Girl Guiding. Ms Ryder argued that the area was an invaluable space that was made safe for Guide activities by the fence currently in place and that she was unaware of any issues of dog waste or litter. She stated that removing the fence would mean the space would become less safe for the children and unsuitable for Guide activity. Ms Ryder referred to the Green Infrastructure Strategy, which stated that such areas were multi-purpose for supporting healthy lifestyles, therefore the site could be used for both dogs and children.
Karen Murphy spoke on item 4. She stated that the she was happy to see the Guides using the field during the summer months, even if there were some parking issues arising from that, however she argued that many dog walkers parked at the end of her drive year-round. Ms Murphy stated that some dog walkers had been rude and that she felt her grandchildren were not safe in the play area since they had begun arriving in large numbers a few years ago.