Some years ago I spearheaded a bold initiative to tackle professional dog walkers who were leading half a dozen or more disorderly hounds around our streets, causing mayhem in the process.
Don’t ask me how, but we ended up ticketing elderly ladies taking their beloved pooches out for a gentle stroll.
Such was the outcry that my predecessor as leader, Sir Merrick Cockell, actually had to go on Radio 4’s Today Programme to apologise to the victims. He even promised each of them a bunch of flowers.
I believe it was later that very same day that he made it plain to me, in unnecessarily robust terms I felt, that dog walking was not an issue we would be revisiting in the foreseeable future.
Fair play to him though, he did try to sugar coat the message somewhat for I also learnt that I was to represent the Royal Borough at the week-long ‘Envisioning the Future of Local Government Finance’ conference to be held at the Trusthouse just outside Accrington.
Yes, the great dog fiasco of 2007 was a very salutary lesson indeed, or at least so I thought, because I now read that we are planning to cancel or curtail the off-lead dog area in Holland Park. I read it in the papers, in emails, on social media, in letters and on the web. I am getting called up about it and I have even been stopped in the street. Dog owners are clearly very angry. In fact things have got so bad that a week at the Accrington Trusthouse is starting to look quite appealing: apparently it has a 24-hour carvery!
Anyway, this is the statement we posted on our website just minutes after we first heard the rumours that we were trying to get rid of the off-lead area. That statement has gone far and wide and yet the idea we are trying to mess with the canine status quo still persists. You know, it’s almost as if some people want it to be true.
Can I just say, one more time, that it isn’t. Now please can we roll over?