SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Dog grids row
Plans for a play area at a huge new neighbourhood in north Yate have been approved amid a row over how to keep out dogs.
The town council called for anti-canine grids to be installed at access points to the site at Ladden Garden Village.
But South Gloucestershire councillors rejected the idea after hearing none of the 80 play areas owned and run by the local authority have the metal mesh devices.
Councillors agreed with officers’ advice by 5-3 votes to grant permission to Barratt Homes for self-closing gates along with a 1m fence around the playground, which will have nine pieces of play equipment.
The massive housing development, formerly North Yate New Neighbourhood, will have 2,450 homes when completed, along with a primary school, nursery, shops, allotments, office space, play areas and sports pitches on 100 hectares of land.
Yate North ward Lib Dem Cllr Mike Drew, who referred the detailed play area application to the strategic sites delivery committee, told the meeting that Yate Town Council, which lodged an objection, had vast experience in managing playgrounds and that dog grids should be installed to keep children safe.
He said: “No matter what you do with the gates, the return mechanism fails at a reasonable period and cannot be instantly replaced. They have to be ordered and fitted.
“Gates can be very easily held open by dog owners. It is much more difficult and a deliberate action to pick up a dog over the grid.”
He said the town council would have been happy to look after the play area but that a previous agreement had put a management company in charge of maintenance, which he criticised as a “fleecehold” on residents.
Cllr Drew said he was surprised a committee meeting had been called over the issue because he thought the request for dog grids was simple.
“All I’m asking is for us to reject this at the moment, let the developer quickly come back and say they will put the dog grid in and that will be passed to the officer under delegated powers so they can get on with it.”
But a council officer said: “Out of the council’s 80 play areas it owns and manages, none of those have dog grids. Self-closing gates prevent access by dogs.”
He said the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommended either self-closing gates or dog grids but not both.
Bradley Stoke South ward Conservative Cllr Roger Avenin said: “I wouldn’t subscribe to Cllr Drew’s anti-dog stance at all.
“Swing gates that are self-closing and adequate signage is quite sufficient for any area. I would propose that we accept this.”
Hanham ward Conservative Cllr June Bamford said: “I’m not denigrating what Cllr Drew has said and I’m quite sure that they have experience for the last 40 years of running children’s play areas.
“But if we look at what the report is saying about these dog grids, they tend to be litter and weed traps, the tread on one side of the grill means that care needs to be taken to put it back in place the right way up and the grids need to be kept secured or you may have people with wilful intent raising them.
“We have an annual play area inspector saying there’s actually no requirement for a play area to be fenced at all and the industry is pushing more towards play areas being open.
“I’m not advocating that, we do have to keep out dogs and keep children safe.
“They recommend self-closing gates which are considered to be the best form of access and prevent access by dogs and close automatically irrespective of the behavior of the users.”
Members voted 5-3 against Cllr Drew’s proposal to reject the plans before granting permission by the same margin at the meeting in Kingswood civic centre on Thursday, November 11.
Words: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV