Call for council to ban dogs from school grounds and play parks

The ban would keep the spaces free from dog fouling, an Aberdeenshire councillor has argued.

Call for council to ban dogs from school grounds and play parks iStock
Stock image of dog fouling and owner picking up mess in play park.

A north-east councillor has called for Aberdeenshire Council to consider banning dogs from school grounds and play parks in a bid to keep them free from fouling.

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford raised the issue at a meeting of full council last Thursday during a debate of the Live Life Aberdeenshire Pitch and Outdoor Physical Activity Space Strategy.

The strategy was developed to improve access to play parks and open spaces across the region.

It revealed that dog fouling had been raised as an “ongoing issue” and officers would consider banning canines from school pitches.

Speaking at the meeting, councillor Ford said: “I am amazed that as a society and as a council that we can continue to tolerate people allowing their dogs to fowl areas that are there for people and children to play on.

“It’s a disgusting and anti-social thing to do with clear health issues and it has to be stopped.”

Councillor Ford said that he didn’t believe the measures currently in place would stop the problem and tougher action needed to be taken.

While he was aware there would be issues with feasibility and enforcement of a ban, he said it could be easier to introduce it some places that are currently fenced.

He asked for a commitment from officers that a report will be brought forward with proposals so that councillors can have a discussion on the issue and attempt to tackle the problem.

Responding, director of infrastructure services, Alan Wood, said that the issue would be looked at further and could result in a report that would return for further debate.

He said: “It’s an important issue. Enforcement is an issue and is being looked at.”

North-east mum Keri Dryburgh said she would support a ban but felt it was unfair to responsible dog owners.

She said: “It would be okay to have dogs in parks if the owners pick up the poo and if the dogs are friendly but it is a problem everywhere, even on pavements.

“I noticed it was more of a problem when I had a buggy, I had to swerve around pavements to avoid getting it on the wheels.”

The same proposal was originally raised by Ellon and District councillor Isobel Davidson back in 2018 and it had even been considered by the local authority in 2014.

At Thursday’s meeting she said that she was “very grateful” to councillor Ford for raising the matter again, and added: “We do need more safe spaces where people can go with no dogs in the area”.

Councillor Davidson said that she looked forward to seeing a report regarding dog bans in due course.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent, Mike Flynn, said the animal welfare charity would support a decision to prevent dogs from being exercised in school grounds or play parks on health grounds.

He said: “We understand that the majority of the public are responsible dog owners and clean up after their pets. However, there is a health and safety risk associated with dog excrement and young children.

“Dog faeces can carry dangerous toxins which can cause infection if children come into contact with it.

“The proposal will motivate people to exercise their dogs away from these areas, and help minimise the risk of infection.”

By local democracy reporter Kirstie Topp