“Dog-gate”: Councillor bites back to get £75 fine refunded

Roy Barnes, who was fined £75 by the council’s bounty hunter contractors when walking his dog through Queen’s Gardens, is to get all his money back thanks to an intervention by local councillor Karen Jewitt.

The poorly maintained and badly whitewashed metal sign on a wall in Queen's Gardens. The bottom line, in reality as well as metaphorically: "Dogs must be kept on a lead"

The poorly maintained and badly whitewashed metal sign on a wall in Queen’s Gardens. The bottom line, in reality as well as metaphorically: “Dogs must be kept on a lead”

Queen’s Gardens is the public open space wedged between the Town Hall, the Croydon Flyover and Park Lane, and which was opened more than 30 years ago by the nation’s most famous dog-walker, Queen Elizabeth II.

The only sign in the gardens which refers to dog-walking indicates that it is allowed provided that the dog is kept on a lead – which is exactly what Barnes was doing with his spaniel, Toby, last October when he was confronted by a Croydon Council jobsworth who demanded money, with a degree of menace.

Jewitt, who will be standing for re-election to the council in Thornton Heath in May, investigated the matter after being alerted to Barnes’s plight by a report on Inside Croydon that other pet-owners are planning a mass dog-walk in Queen’s Gardens tomorrow to protest at the harsh treatment.

“When I read about Roy being fined for walking through Queen’s Gardens, I thought that if no dogs are allowed then a by law had been broken,” Jewitt told Inside Croydon.

“I read that there was no visible signage to say dogs were not allowed. As a dog-owner myself, I am aware and I do look for ‘No Dogs Allowed’ or ‘Dogs Must Be On Leash’ signs. If Roy missed the signs, then I could find myself in the same situation.”

Although Barnes lives in another ward – Fairfield – Jewitt decided to look further into the matter. “I contacted Roy to get the full story. He told me his local councillor had already tried but she was told rules had been broken, and so that was that.

Karen Jewitt: dogged pursuit of a cause

Karen Jewitt: dogged pursuit of a cause

“I wanted to look at this for myself, as it felt an injustice had been done. I visited the gardens, and the only signage I found was on the post at the entrance near the public toilets saying, ‘Dogs Must Be Kept On A Lead’.

“I walked around, and around, and still found no other signage. I called the officer in charge of enforcement, we made arrangements to meet him to have a look and see which law was broken. He was very helpful and told me that when the incident happened there were three signs, two obscured by foliage and one near the entrance opposite Fairfield Halls.”

According to Jewitt, the council official said that the signs, now removed, declare that dogs are not allowed in Queen’s Gardens. It is not known when the local by law or council ordinance was agreed to ban dogs from the open space.

Jewitt said, “He had acted after ‘Dog-gate’ and removed all the signage to renew it and make it more visible. No one will be charged until new signs are erected.”

The good news, though, is that after listening to Jewitt, the council official has decided that in this case, Barnes should be refunded his £75 fine. “The confusion over signage and by laws made none of this clear to the public,” Jewitt said. “Sometimes a little of your time as a councillor goes a long way to help the people who make this borough.”

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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2 Responses to “Dog-gate”: Councillor bites back to get £75 fine refunded

  1. Well done Karen. If they were up to the mark the Tory Chair of the relevant committee, or one of the 3 Tory councillors for Fairfield, would have achieved this. This saga, all the way from the original fine for walking a dog to the lack of action by the Conservative administration to rectify it, demonstrates how much we need to vote for a change of administration in May.

  2. mraemiller says:

    No Homeless. No Dogs. No Homeless with Dogs. It’s surely only a matter of time till NOBODY

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