BLOG 109 – FOUNDRY LEA, DOGS, HEALTH, 1950’S and more
MEET THE FOUNDRY LEA BUILDER SESSION – Wednesday 1st March 2023
The consortium of Barratt David Wilson Homes and Countryside Partnerships are hosting a ‘Meet the Builder’ session on the 1st of March between 13:00 to 19:00 in Bridport Town Hall.
The session is in response to the Foundry Lea development being granted detailed planning permission.
This is an open door session for you to come and meet with the team that are involved in the Foundry Lea Development. It will also be an opportunity for you to discuss the recent issue they had with the accidental removal of some hedges and trees, and to hear how they are trying to make amends.
The builders welcome all questions and queries that you may have and there will be presentational material that will give information on the next steps and stages of the development, in advance of a planned start in Spring 2023.
They will present updates on:
Miles Cross roundabout
On-site Health and Safety for the purposes of construction and pre commencement activities
Infrastructure Delivery and Actions to include electricity, surface water, BT and foul sewage
Planning Application Updates – potential house type changes responding to building regulations
West Road Landscaping Reinstatement and updates
Build Programme/Routes of the construction and strategy
Requisite statutory sign offs from Health and Safety providers, NHBC, Local Authority and Statutory Service Providers
If you are unable to attend the event then all presentational material that we will use can be located on the Foundry Lea website, https://www.foundrylea.co.uk/ where questions can also be made.
WEST BAY DISCOVERY CENTRE – job opportunity
Due to some happy news for our Manager Liz Bryant, we are looking for a friendly and highly effective person to provide maternity cover for the varied and enjoyable part-time role of Manager at our award winning visitor centre.
West Bay Discovery Centre would be grateful if you could share this in formation with anyone that you think that might be interested in this role.
THE ‘50s… FROM RATIONING TO ROCK ‘n ROLL! – Help Wanted
Members of Bridport’s Heritage Forum are busy collating information and artefacts and building ‘sets’ for their next large scale Exhibition which will be held in Bridport Town Hall in August ’23, highlighting the life and times of the ‘50s.
A ‘50s kitchen’ will take centre stage, and other exhibits will feature childhood toys and TV programmes and ‘A night out’ – complete with Babycham, hamburgers, skiffle, Teddy boys and fashionable dancers…
Collecting materials for these themes has been very successful but the Forum has run into a ‘brick wall’ trying to find original photos, artefacts and memories of the most local themes – Bridport Schooldays – particularly for the opening of the new Sir John Colfox School in 1956 and the Charter Pageant in 1953.
All the recognised local archives have turned up… NOTHING and so the Forum is appealing to the local community for help.
On Saturday March 11th between 10.00 and 1.00, the British Legion Hall will be open. Tea and refreshments will be on hand, and members of the Forum will be there, hoping that many locals residents will be queuing up to share memories, photographs, old school ties and ‘cavemen’ costumes etc, etc.
For more information and offers of items to donate or loan please contact Sheila Meaney on 07971 885610
Jurassic Multicultural Network is a group where individuals and families of people from different cultures, ethnicities and faiths can find friendship, support and help promote their culture.
The group which is open to anyone meet on the first Saturday of the month and this coming Saturday they will be meeting at the Childrens Centre from 1.00 – 3.00pm.
It is a great opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to to get together, play, chat, share stories and make friends. There will be hot drinks, biscuits and guaranteed friendly faces.
To find out more visit the Jurassic Multicultural Network Facebook page by clicking HERE.
BRIDPORT HEALTH WALKS
The Bridport Health Walk group celebrated 20 years of walks this week with a gentle ramble around some of the back streets, alleyways and riverside paths within the town.
The group meets every Wednesday at the United Church at 9.45 for a 10.00 start for a 30 to 40 minute health walk. On the first Wednesday of every month there is also an option to take part in a shorter walk of less than 30 minutes.
There is also a health walk on the first Thursday of the month starting at 10:30 for 45 to 60 minute walk.
If you fancy stretching your legs in the company of a very friendly group click HERE to find out more.
OTHER HEALTH INITIATIVES
Dorset Council have sent information on a number of current health initiatives:
The NHS Health Checks service – a cardiovascular risk check and advice service – will be re-launched from 1 April this year. For more information click HERE
The Public Health Communications team is running a campaign on behalf of Dorset’s suicide prevention group to increase awareness of children’s mental health support called RUOK?. For more details see the main page by clicking HERE (this has the main sources of support, with essential numbers and links).
Active Dorset have also launched their physical activity strategy, A Movement for Movement. The strategy can be viewed by clicking HERE .
PRAISE FOR BRIDPORT LIBRARY
As you can imagine the overwhelming majority of people who contact me do so to inform me of something negative or complain so it is always good to receive a positive email or phone call occasionally. The following email in praise of the Bridport Library, reminded me of what a much valued resource we have right in the heart of our town. If you have not visited recently please go and reacquaint yourself with the array of resources available.
Just a quick note to say I’ve submitted a compliment on the DC website about Bridport Library.
I took my two year old grandson to ‘Story Time’ last Tuesday and had the most wonderful warm welcome from the staff.
The children’s corner was comfortable and very engaging for an energetic toddler keen to escape the confines of his pushchair, with sensory mats, child-scale chairs, tables and crayons and plenty of books and other visual excitements.
‘Story Time’ was great fun and the staff member was relaxed, friendly and very skilled at ensuring all the children joined in, describing the pictures and telling stories themselves, no matter their age or language ability. The craft session afterwards was set up so any of the kids could be as creative as their skills and imagination allowed.
Another staff member had made both me and my grandson feel very welcome and offered me some excellent advice as a fellow hands-on granny about fun things to do in Bridport with little ones.
What a lovely library, what a fab community and lovely town!
Thanks to Bridport Library and to Dorset Council for encouraging library staff to blossom at the heart of the brilliant Bridport community.
Green Party Dorset Councillor for Lyme Regis and Charmouth
AND FINALLY – THREE ISSUES OF CONCERN TO RESIDENTS
Of the many things people contact me about, there are three which come up far more often Dogs, Housing and Parking. Over the next three Blogs I am going to try to summarise the concerns raised and attempt to address some of the issues and possible answers associated with them.
When it comes to dogs I think of myself as ‘dognostic’. In other words I inhabit a middle-gound when it comes to dogs. For me it is very much on a dog-by-dog basis. Incidentally I feel the same way about cats, too, in case you think I have some sort of sinister pro-feline agenda. I have friends and family who have dogs who I enjoy being with because I am familiar with them. Unfortunately, it tends to be irresponsible dog owners that let their dogs down and cause problems for others.
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, in 2022 there were an estimated 13 million dogs, a significant rise of 4 million from the 9 million in 2019. Many people got a puppy during lockdown, when they were at home 24 hours a day, seeing very few people and not able to attend puppy training classes. For many, it was their first dog.
As the dog population has increased so has the unintended impact they are having on other people. Today we find them wandering around shops, squatting outside shops, whining and yapping at passers by, bounding across play areas and picnics, cocking their legs everywhere, and even dressed up on social media.They are even penetrating areas hitherto unknown to dogkind – such as the workspaces, cafes, restaurants, and bars. Today everywhere appears to be dog friendly and dog owners assume that their pet will be welcomed by all. If you are a dog owner the ever increasing dog friendly trend is a much appreciated and enjoyed one.
Yet, I suspect that for every person who rushes up and greets a dog there are others who feel uncomfortable or cowering and even sneezing (15% of people are allergic to dogs, by the way). A fellow grandfather who has a phobia of dogs after having been bitten when he was young told me. “When a dog bounds over and jumps up at my grandchildren, the owner finds it hilarious and cute, I really don’t.”
Another local resident told me: “I dislike the idea that dogs are welcome in so many places now.” “We’re all expected to embrace this culture of dog ownership.” “You feel grumpy if you object. But I really don’t think dog-owners have any idea how much they impose on other people.”
But it is not just the impact on other people that has increased alongside the rise in dog numbers.
Local residents have rightly encouraged the Town Council to let the grass grow long on verges and green spaces to enable wild flowers to bloom and provide habitat for insects, invertebrates, small mammals and birds particularly ground nesting ones. Spaces such as Asker Meadow and the Community Orchard look beautiful when in bloom and the pesticide free hay is an ideal fodder crop. Sadly the longer the grass the more dog faeces it hides.
When the grass in Asker Meadow was cut and baled last year the tractor driver reported that stench was overwhelming and the bales unfit for use as fodder or anything else. As a volunteer at the Community Orchard I know from personal experience when scything the wild flower area how much dog poo lies hidden awaiting the swish of my scythe.
Not only is dog faeces a risk to us in terms of disease (due to bacteria such as E. coli and Campylobacter, plus parasites such as hookworms and roundworms), but it is also a danger to livestock through parasites such as Neospora, which can cause abortion in cattle, and Sarcocystis which affects sheep.
So much for the impact of dogs on our urban green spaces, what about the impact in the countryside.
Only this week the front page of the Bridport News carried a story about a second attack by dogs on sheep on Eggardon Hill this month. This follows the death of a pregnant Highland cow as a result of a dog attack on the same farm last year. Click HERE to read the article in full.
Last Sunday the Sunday Times included an article about the impact an ‘off lead’ dog had on 28 newborn lambs. Click HERE to read the article
Dogs of any breed can injure a sheep simply by chasing it, causing exhaustion and distress which can cause a pregnant ewe to miscarry or die. It can also separate lambs from their mothers.In recent weeks, dog attacks have been reported to police by farmers in North Wales, Somerset and here in Dorset. But it is not only farm animals that are fatally attacked there has been an increase in the number of people being attacked and even killed as the following local incidents over the past year illustrate.
Thankfully fatal dog attacks in the UK are measured in single figures per year, but even one fatality per year is one too many. An increasing number of serious dog attacks (both fatal and non-fatal) was the catalyst for the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 which banned four breeds: Pitbull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Lila Brasileiro.
A 2021 study of fatal dog attacks in Europe during the period 1995–2016, published in Forensic Science International Volume 318, January 2021, placed the UK (with 56 fatalities) as fourth in the top five countries for number of human fatalities alongside Hungary (#1), France (#2), Romania (#3), and Poland (#5). The study also found that fatal dog attacks have been increasing significantly over time which was not attributable to the increase in number of dogs, and stated “The numbers of fatalities are indeed a very small tip of the ‘dog attack iceberg’, and the number of dog attacks that lead to hospitalisations of the victim outnumber fatalities by several orders of magnitude.” To read the full report click HERE.
Even our Nature Reserves are not immune from the ever increasing impact of dogs. Ground nesting birds such as Curlews, Lapwings, Redshanks, Snipe, Skylarks and Yellowhammers can fall victim to dogs allowed to roam off lead in meadows. Recent research published by the British Ecological Society has found that dog faeces and urine are being deposited in nature reserves in such quantities that it is likely to be damaging wildlife. The analysis found that the resulting over fertilisation of the ground with nitrogen and phosphorus beside footpaths can reach levels that would be illegal on farmland. Click HERE to read the report in full.
Only this week a local resident brought to my attention the following two articles relating to the impact of dogs on our rivers:
The first taken from the Guardian concerning environmental imapct of pet flea treatments. Click HERE to read it.
The second from the Environment Agency concerning the protection of breeding fish in our rivers. Click HERE to read it.
The rivers Asker, Brit and Simene are havens for wildlife and lovely to walk along side with or without a dog. The very gradual return of water voles, otters, dippers and even salmon is something to be celebrated.
On Wednesday evening, when showing my sister-in-law the Greta Berlin sculptures on Asker meadow we were stopped in our tracks by a Little Egret wading in the river and even saw it catch a small fish. The Little Egret t is a beautiful small white member of the heron family with distinctive yellow feet which first appeared in the UK in significant numbers in 1989 and first bred in Dorset in 1996.
To encourage even more Dippers to become resident on our rivers, Bridport Town Council in collaboration with Bridport Bird Group and Dorset Wildlife Trust, have installed four ‘dipper boxes’ on bridges on the Asker and Brit. The photograph left shows Nick Gray and Luke Phillips installing them.
We now wait with baited breath to see whether the dippers adopt them.
Unfortunately when dog walkers encourage their pets to frolic in the rivers that run through our town they not only disturb the wildlife, particularly during breeding and young rearing months, they also damage the banks increasing the risk of flooding.
The Asker Meadows Management Plan 2019-2025 includes action to install experimental sections of fencing along the river Asker as a means of discouraging easy access to the river by dogs. There is an 8m corridor along the river Asker which is managed by the Environment Agency as part of the Bridport Flood Defence scheme. For some time now, the Town Council has been trying to get a definitive response from the Environment Agency regarding the proposed action to fence short sections in order to protect the bank and wildlife. Informally we have been informed that fencing would NOT be acceptable to the Environment Agency.
The Asker Meadows Management Plan 2019-2025 can be read or downloaded HERE.
So what is the answer?
Turning back the clock to a time when dogs were much fewer in number, lived outside in kennels and were in the main working dogs is not a realistic option. We all have to accept that times have changed and dog ownership is now, in the main, as an indoor family pet rather than the hunting, retrieving, guarding, herding, baiting, fighting, racing etc roles they were originally bred of perform for us.
Todays dog owners today are much more responsible when it comes to picking up their pets faecal deposits when out walking with them. This is particularly true on our streets. However, there is still some way to go when it comes to our urban green spaces including play areas and playing fields, and in the countryside particularly in fields where domestic animals graze.
It does not seem to matter how many enforcement signs and bins there are some dog owners choose to ignore them. In Somerset the council have introduced a £75 fine for owners who cannot prove that they have the means to pick up and dispose of a poo hygienically. Dog walkers who fail to show that they have bags ready to pick up their pet’s poo will if caught be fined.
Introducing additional legislation and putting up a signs warning of the consequences if caught not picking up (The current penalty level is Dorset is set in legislation at £100 to be paid within 28 days. Early payment, within 14 days, will reduce this to £75.) will only ever be effective if it is enforced. Enforcement can only be carried out by an Authorised Person eg a Dog Warden and due to the limited number of wardens in Dorset the chances of being caught and fined are extremely slim. To find out more about the Dog Warden service or report something click HERE.
Should the Town Council consider employing its own Dog Warden? Would it be a good use of public money? Could it be self financing based on the number of fines issued?
When it comes to fencing off the towns rivers, green spaces and play areas in order to protect wildlife and keep them clean and hygienic for those who use them and play in them we are not only looking at a huge expense but also blighting the landscape. Clearly this is a far from ideal option but having to collect the dog poo deposits from a football or other sports pitches is the equally far from ideal situation we find ourself in today.
Dogs need to be exercised and there clearly needs to be spaces available where this can be done safely. I remember seeing several dog exercise parks on a visit to the USA a few years ago. Is this the answer? I would like to think not, but it is one possible solution.
If a dog is on a lead the person on the other end of it knows exactly where it is and is in complete control of it. Incidents involving the linking of domestic animals, wildlife and even humans all occur when a dog is off lead and out of control. At the recent Wassail in the Community Orchard, a dog owner arrived with three dogs off lead which preceded to run through the assembled crowd, and this occurred in an area clearly signed as one where dogs are required to be on leads.
Are we reaching a point where hospitality businesses need to consider providing ‘dog free’ spaces for those who do not wish to eat out and socialise in the company of other people’s pets?
Challenging a dog owner who fails to pick up or has their dog off lead in an inappropriate place, risks incurring their wroth particularly if the person challenging does not have a dog with them. Perhaps this is where responsible dog owners are in the best position to step up and call out and challenge their more irresponsible fellows.
Perhaps the ultimate, and possible only long term answer, is a little more thought, consideration and give and take on the part of dog owners and non dog owners. This is essential if we the in the human community and the environment and wildlife we share it with are going to able to live in harmony with what appears to be an ever increasing number of dogs on our streets, beaches, green spaces and countryside.