Welcome to Heckington.com the community website for the Lincolnshire village of Heckington. This website is run and supported by local villagers in an attempt to bring you all that's great about the village.
On this site you will find useful links to local traders, organisations and groups that will showcase what Heckington has to offer to its residents and visitors alike, proving that Heckington is a great place to visit and an even greater place to live!
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The following is an extract from the minutes of the Heckington Parish Council meeting of 28th September 2015.
DOGS ON PLAYING FIELDS
We have anticipated that there would be a delegation from dog walkers regarding the Playing Fields as there is a considerable amount of misinformation circulating around the village. Today the PC received a 4 page letter in which the majority of facts are incorrect and we will be replying to that letter. I therefore will read out a statement explaining the PC position.
The legal situation regarding both playing fields is these parcels of land were purchased specifically as playing fields and they are NOT public open space. These fields were purchased with grants from Sport England and the condition of that grant lists a number of conditions which included a ban on dogs and that condition was agreed by the then Parish Council and those conditions still apply.
The new signs simply replace those that kept getting vandalised. The original sign, which was originally situated at the formal entrance to the playing fields, has been relocated to the wall of the Pavilion so as to be covered by CCTV. All other signs erected over the past years have either been damaged beyond repair or removed. The new signs differ in that the Parish Council have made a concession which allows dogs to be exercised on a lead around the perimeter of the fields as we know that a small number of dog walkers like to socialize whilst exercising their dogs.
In the past there has been no problem with this arrangement as the vast majority of dog owners cleared up after their dogs. We accept that the enforcement of the ban has been somewhat lax in the past but has been forcibly brought to our attention recently because of three reasons.
First, the new law relating to dogs on leads which came into force on the 13 May 2014.
Second, the alarming number of incidents recently with dogs off their lead attacking other dogs or worrying people where Police were involved and the third reason is the most important as far as the PC is concerned is the threat that if we do not comply with the conditions imposed by Sport England then they have the authority to reclaim the £30,000 grant.
This situation can be laid firmly at the feet of a dog walker. The circumstances being was that someone visited the Lincolnshire archives and obtained details of the grant and then Sport England received a letter stating that they did not want caravans and car boot fairs on the only open space in the village where our dogs can be exercised off the lead.
Having been brought to their attention that dogs were on the fields, they immediately contacted us and we have been forcibly reminded of the conditions agreed to by then Parish Council in obtaining this grant. The consequences being that the Parish Council would have to repay the grant of several thousands of pounds if the conditions are breached.
So the solution is with you; if that concession is abused then those irresponsible dog owners will give us no option but to seek other alternatives. One such alternative is to make the land subject to a Public Spaces Protection Order (formally Dog Control Orders), which would indicate that these fields are open to the public. They are not and at times it is necessary the fields can be closed whenever there are organised matches or events or ground maintenance. It could also affect our public liability insurance.
We hoped that by informing people of the reason for the ban on the playing areas would be sufficient and the vast majority have accepted them and abided by them. However it was impossible to inform the many visitors who visited the last two remaining boot fairs of the reinforcement of the ban. The advertising material relating to the boot fairs is produced at least a year ahead and those people attending the last two fairs would have only known when they arrived and seen the signs. Details of next year’s events contain the notice that dogs are not permitted.
We are a democratically elected body and as such we have to consider all our Parishioners. We acknowledge that our decision may not be what you want to hear but we also have to think of the 1,600 other council tax payers who have no interest whatsoever in the playing fields or dog walkers but I am sure they would not be happy if we told them that we would have to raise the council tax by £30 – £40 a year to re-pay Sport England’s grant.
As we know, the swimming pool caters for the local community but when the swimming season ends, the pool is opened up to dogs and their owners.
Swimming pool chairman Michael Wells said that what had originally started out as a bit of fun has become a big hit with dog lovers throughout the county and they had to add extra session to try and cater for those wanting to take part.
The swimming pool is now close for the winter but plans are in hand to extend the Doggy Dip sessions next year, following its success this year. All monies raised from the events go towards the upkeep of the swimming pool which is reliant on funds raised from such events and the local community.
For further details, please visit the Heckington Community Swimming Pool website at www.heckingtonpool.co.uk