DOG walkers have reacted angrily to a town council decision to ban their animals from two Whitchurch playing fields.

Dog owner Mike Stead has set up a group called Whitchurch Dogs, and members are urging others to send a letter to the town council in protest against the signs which ban dogs from the fields to protect the public from dog excrement and nuisance.

Mr Stead said: “There are quite a few people who are very cross about this. The council has put in this ban on the only two recreation grounds in Whitchurch.

“Many families, including mine ,take their dogs to the park while the children go on the swings and the dogs can run around. What has really upset people is that there has been no consultation. Everyone is really cross about it.”

Four of seven signs put up to warn of the ban – in force from September 21 – have been vandalised or removed, although there is no suggestion the dog-walkers are responsible.

Nonetheless, town councillor Barry Jackson said: “It’s a shame because we were hoping to talk it all through at our next meeting. We wanted to get the protesters on board to help tackle the problem. I was hoping we could get them to work with us. If there are enough people out there who are responsible and do pick up after their dogs then they are the ones to help us.”

He said on both fields there used to be signs warning people that dog fouling could result in a £500 fine, but these did not work.

He added: “The wardens do come down and patrol the area but they can’t be there all the time.”

Mr Stead said: “I have been going to the park with my children for four years and I have never seen any evidence of dog fouling. I made a Freedom of Information request and found out that in the last 60 years no one has been fined in Whitchurch. So it is either not a problem or they can’t enforce it. If they can’t enforce it then how will they enforce the new signs and stop irresponsible owners using the parks? All they have done is target honest people.”