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Council to refund fixed penalties after admitting dog control order error

A borough council is to refund payment of 44 fixed penalty notices issued in respect of dog control orders, after admitting to an “administrative procedural error”.

The problems emerged when Bedford Borough Council sought to prosecute Lynette Tweedale after her dog was allowed off a lead in Foster Hill Road Cemetery.

Tweedale, advised by high-profile lawyer Nick Freeman, refused to pay the fixed penalty fine.

In a statement, Bedford’s chief executive, Philip Simpkins, said: “It was considered right to continue with the prosecution as evidence was submitted which confirmed the dog was off the lead and there was reasonable signage throughout the cemetery bringing the restriction to the attention of dog walkers.”

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However, after the errors came to light, the council took the view that it should not have enforced payment. The authority has now written to all individuals issued with fixed penalty notices, explaining the mistake and offering a full refund.

Simpkins said: “The council remains committed to the enforcement of dog control orders which prevent dogs being allowed off leads in certain places such as cemeteries and children’s playgrounds.

“There was overwhelming public support for the introduction of powers which establish these particular places as locations where people can be assured dogs are not allowed off the lead. The orders also allow the council to enforce against people who allow dogs to foul public spaces and do not clean up afterwards.”

Bedford’s chief executive added that action would be taken immediately to commence a process to overcome the administrative error.

The council revealed that it had received an anonymous payment of £75 in connection with the court proceedings and said this would be donated to the Friends of Bedford Cemetery.

Simpkins added: “I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology for the mistake which the council has made for this administrative error which has led to us being unable to enforce against people who allow dogs in places where it is entirely unsuitable or to foul public areas. I can assure the public that this will be corrected without delay.”

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