A group of Pendle dog owners and their pets held a protest outside Nelson Town Hall last night over council plans to increase the stray dog fine from £36 to £100.
The full meeting of Pendle Council had been set to discuss the rise as part of a review of income charges for 2015/16 and councillors were met by banner-wielding protestors as they arrived for the meeting.
But Liberal Democrat councillors Claire Teall, Ann Kerrigan and Ken Hartley have called in this decision, which means it will be considered again at the next meeting of the council’s Executive on October 23rd.
In the meantime no action can be taken and the item was withdrawn from last night’s agenda.
The Pendle Dogs in Need charity has said the increase will lead to more dogs having to be put down as many pet owners will be unable to afford to pay the new charges.
This morning, leader of Pendle Council Coun. Joe Cooney issued the following statement on the dog charge situation.
He said: “Tackling issues relating to dogs is one of my top priorities, because people across the borough repeatedly tell me, and my council colleagues, this is their number one gripe. We as a council must tackle what the people want us to tackle, and that includes dog fouling, stray dogs, dangerous dogs and the mistreatment of dogs.
“Following a meeting of the Executive last week, we agreed to raise the fee for kennelling dogs who are repeatedly picked up as strays to £100.
“Four Conservative Executive colleagues and myself met representatives of Pendle Dogs in Need on Tuesday. This organisation does fantastic work in the borough, and we had very constructive discussions about the increase in fees.
“We listened to their ideas about how we can attempt to overcome both the problems of stray dogs and the poor treatment of dogs in Pendle.
“With their input and that of other specialist stakeholders, we plan to work together to come up with optimal solutions which may now include a range of measures to deter and educate irresponsible dog owners.
“I want to make it clear we raised the fee to £100 to deter people from allowing their dogs to repeatedly roam the streets, and not to raise income.
“I’d be happier if we never had to charge this fee because Pendle didn’t have any irresponsible dog owners who repeatedly allow their dogs to stray. The fee is intended only for repeat and persistent offenders. stray dogs and poor treatment of them remains my prime concern.”
Coun. Tommy Cooney plans to meet Labour and Lib Dem representatives within the next few weeks to hear their thoughts on this issue.