Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In March, the Porthtowan Post also known as the Judi Strega Newsletter published an anonymous vitriolic anti-dog ( and anti-people!!) letter. It was apparently published anonymously because, so Judi told us , the lady letter writer had been threatened and intimidated by dog owners in the Village who were supposed to be members of the local Dog Group. It also contained an allegation that a founder member of the Dog Group had broken the Village byelaws and been fined £50.00 by Carrick Council for not cleaning up after her dog.
Neither of these two allegations are true nor were the statements concerning children swallowing toxocara worm eggs while swimming at Porthtowan or the Village shop floor being covered in Dog faeces.
There were other sweeping generalisations about dog owners in the Village but I expect you get the message!!!!!!!....... Obviously members of the Dog Group were angry that yet more silly gossip was being spread around the Village and more seriously that unsubstantiated allegations had been made without any effort made to check facts.
We wrote to the Editor asking for a chance to set the record straight, but when our letter was published it had been rewritten and subjected to a really thorough cut & paste job.
Maybe it was coincidence that specific words had been edited out and every mention of trying bring people together to do something constructive and clean up the Village had been deleted.
We have posted the full text of our letter so that people can see what we really said and the context in which it was written: all the words in RED had been deleted when the letter finally appeared in the Porthtowan Post. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From the Porthtowan Dog Group. email ; porthtowandoggroup@msn.com

Dear Judi Strega,

I am writing to you as Editor of the Porthtowan Post following our conversation about the letter and allegations you published in the March edition of the Porthtowan Post.

Can I just reiterate my conversation with you; I have never in all my years in the Village heard such a divisive tirade of unfounded allegations and innuendo directed at a group of fellow village residents.

You told me that you know the name of the "lady" who wrote this letter, but that you have withheld her name from publication because she says she has been subjected to threats and intimidation by dog owners in the village who are members of our Group. I have now personally spoken with many Villagers (dog owners and non dog owners) about this and they are appalled at this letter. The claim of intimidation is absolutely ridiculous. I don't believe these claims can be substantiated because I don't believe them to be true. If you or your anonymous writer know who has been threatening towards her then these names must be given to the Police who will take action. It is awful to think of somebody in the Village being so frightened that they can't express their own opinions under their own name. It goes without saying that if you can prove the allegations , we would join with you in getting the culprits held to account.

Its a waste of time trying to deal with all the sweeping generalisations in the letter, suffice to say, it is sad to think that someone would write such an irrational letter without making one constructive suggestion as to how we can achieve a better cleaner Village environment. Isn't this the main problem that we should all be working towards solving? Making unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations about a large proportion of your fellow village residents isn't generally the best way to get people working together.

Just for the record I will just confirm to you again that neither Anne Corrigan nor Carleen Collins nor myself have ever been fined or warned or reported for failing to pick-up dog mess. And if you have evidence to the contrary then I would like to see it. And if you know who is responsible for spreading the lie then you ought to tell us. It is all very well that you should attempt to undermine a campaign which you don't agree with and I respect your right to do just that, but when someone uses our community news letter to spread deliberate lies then surely as Editor you have to start being a little more circumspect about what you publish.

On a personal level, I find it very disappointing that you can find time to write to me asking me whether you can use one of my Porthtowan photographs to publicise just how beautiful our Village is, and then knowing my connection as a founder member of the Dog Group, you publish allegations about us without so much as telephone call to check fact from fiction.

I am left wondering why this person who says she cares so much about the cleanliness in the Village "remains silent" when confronted with " the vast majority of these people" who she says are breaking the law and letting their dogs foul the village. This lady obviously isn't worried or shy about making allegations. If she won't confront the offenders herself why doesn't she simply speak to the dog warden, phone her local Councillor or write and let the Carrick Environmental Health team know who is not clearing up their dogs mess. The fact that she is prepared to stand by and let it happen time and time again without taking any action herself is not going to solve the problem - can I suggest she does something positive and joins our clean-up campaign, she could try having the courage of her convictions and could spend a little time and effort lobbying Carrick Council for better litter/dog mess controls like those of us in the Porthtowan Dog Group. Writing vitriolic anonymous letters is not going to advance the clean up campaign one little bit. The only way to get things done is to have the courage of your convictions and get out there and DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE.

We know there are errant dog owners just the same as there are badly behaved holiday makers, and of course there are instances when the law is broken inadvertently, ( the Editor has inserted a ? here) but the big idea surely is to educate everyone to be responsible for their environment, whether that's littering or dog mess or more serious environmental damage.

When I re-read the letter you published, I'm left with the conclusion that some people are just happier when they are moaning than doing something practical about the situation.

Rose Woodward. Anne Corrigan. Carleen Collins
Founder members Porthtowan Dog Group.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Are you sitting comfortably?? Then I shall begin......
This is the Press Release that we sent out to publicise our Protest and Mass Dog Walk on Easter Saturday 15th April, 2006 on our lovely beach at Porthtowan on the North Coast in Cornwall.

Press Release.
On 26th January 2006, three Porthtowan Village residents, Carleen Collins, Anne Corrigan and Rose Woodward, founder members of the Porthtowan Dog Group, finally met with Carrick Councillors and Officers. It had taken over 19 months since they wrote their first letter to ask for a meeting with Carrick Council. We wanted to discuss a proposal for a relaxation of the current dog beach ban, which for 6 months of the year means it is illegal for Village residents and visitors to walk with their dogs on Porthtowan beach.

The Porthtowan Dog Group has a membership of over 150 regular dog walkers, mainly Village Residents and including most Village businesses, who will come together to ask Carrick District Council to rescind the Dog Beach Ban on a small part of Porthtowan Beach. The proposal is that people should be allowed to walk their dogs on the lead, down a narrow corridor by the cliffs on the Westside of the beach and around the headland onto neighbouring Lushington Beach where the current Dog Ban does not apply.

The whole of the Eastside of the beach below the dunes would continue to be totally banned to dogs and would retain its Blue Flag status. Many Blue Flag beaches successfully run a split beach scheme. Members of the Porthtowan Dog Group feel this is a fair compromise between the need for tourism and the rights of Council Tax paying residents.

One of our main arguments is that there are long periods when our lovely beach is hardly used; during April, May, June & September there are very few holidaymakers about and yet walkers with their dogs are still banned, even when the beach is empty.

Carrick Council has concerns

Carrick Councillors thought the proposal could be dangerous because the tide could come in and cut people off. However, dog walkers point out that this could happen now; having dogs with you doesn’t make the tides any more dangerous.
Carrick argue that the beach may lose its blue flag status, but other Blue Flag beaches operate the split beach system successfully. Some Councils say an area of dog friendly beach is welcomed by holidaymakers and residents, even the Blue Flag Organisation says dog friendly beaches are the way forward. In other parts of the Country, local businesses especially camping and caravan sites and holiday cottage owners find they can attract new business and extend the current short holiday season by appealing to our Nation of dog lovers to bring their pets with them on holiday…….what a plus point it could be if they could walk with their dogs on the regions lovely beaches !!

The Perceived Risk to Health

Carrick Officers say that there is a health risk from dog faeces but could not provide figures at the meeting.
The Porthtowan Dog Group say that the main fear seems to be Toxocara Canis which is a parasitic worm disease carried by unwormed dogs and all foxes. However, this fear is blown up out of all proportion by the anti-dog brigade. The last official published figures for reported and confirmed cases of toxocariasis from DEFRA ( Zoonoses report UK 2003) says that in 2003 out of a UK population of over 60 million people there were only 3 (yes three) Laboratory confirmed cases of this disease. Of course that is three too many, but it has to be viewed in comparison to other risk of disease from normal everyday living.

Don’t use our Lovely Village as a Dog Toilet!!!!!.

It is fair to say that if dog faeces are to be presented as a health risk on the beach in the summer months for holidaymakers then there is a risk on the Dunes and Village Green all year round for residents as well. The Porthtowan Dog Group thinks it is a matter of enforcement, or rather the lack of it, that is the real issue. Many people know that Dog Warden doesn’t visit the Village very often, and if he does, it is usually during office hours and weekdays only; it is particularly galling if you are a law abiding Village resident to see other people flouting the law in your own Village.

Porthtowan Dog Owners are calling on Carrick District Council to start a proper enforcement of the dog mess & littering byelaws. We feel there is only one way to stop people littering or failing to clean-up after their dogs to mess and that is to give out £50 penalty notices. The Dog Group has asked Carrick to start an urgent campaign to “clear up and clean up”.

Carrick Council has agreed to start a campaign of strict enforcement. We want the word to go out that if you come to Porthtowan and you do not clean up after your dog YOU WILL BE FINED. The money from the fines can be ring-fenced and used to finance environmental projects – perhaps a beach warden to enforce all beach byelaws, path clearances, open space restoration, stone hedge repairs, planting etc.

The Council agrees to Consult the Public - Village Survey to Gauge Public Opinion.

We are a Village Group of responsible dog owners who want to be able to walk across a very small area of their own Beach in order to get to an unbanned stretch of coastline. Not the whole beach, just a very small part to gain access around the Headland to Lushington Beach. We want to promote responsible dog ownership, and with Carrick’s help, we would like to think we could get a nicer cleaner environment in Porthtowan for everyone, residents and visitors.

Carrick did finally agree that they would consult residents and conduct a survey of the Village to check what support there is for the relaxation of the Dog Beach Ban and Clean up Campaign. We know there are people who disagree with the proposal. It is compromise between interests that we are trying to promote. An anonymous letter published in the latest Porthtowan Newsletter has caused real division and awful bitterness in the Village. That is why a survey is such a good idea. Democracy at work…. If you live in Porthtowan or surrounding areas or you use Porthtowan Beach for whatever purpose, whatever your views, dog walkers or not, please make sure you have your say.

Email contact; porthtowandoggroup@msn.com

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