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Residents divided over dog park agility equipment spend

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RESIDENTS are divided in opinion over plans for the town council to purchase and install dog agility equipment in the King George V (KGV) park.

Councillors voted in favour to purchase dog agility equipment at an extraordinary town council meeting, held on Tuesday 28th March. The project would cost up to £20,000 and is due to be paid for out of funds reserved for play parks across the town.

During the councillors’debate at the meeting, some felt that purchasing dog agility equipment was unnecessary, particularly when equipment in children’s play parks needs upgrading, and residents are struggling in a cost-of-living crisis.

Residents have since taken to social media to air their concerns about the council spending money on this project. However, others have welcomed the plans and the opportunities dog agility equipment might bring to the town.

One resident said, “My dog loves the dog park but really doesn’t need things to play on. A ball is all he’s interested in. It flooded really badly recently so the equipment would surely get ruined.”

Other pressing issues?

Another resident said, “Is this really necessary when – from what I’ve heard at least – there’s several other pressing issues in the town? Since when do dogs need play equipment?”

A local dog owner in favour of the dog agility equipment said, “I think it’s a great idea! The agility equipment offers owners on a lower income the opportunity to try out agility for free and provide a different form of exercise for their dogs. I will definitely be making use of the equipment when it arrives!”

The proposal was put forward by cllr Carl Houghton who felt upgrading the dog park would be a ‘family friendly’ asset to the town. Defending the plans cllr Carl Houghton said, “I fully understand the divisiveness of the dog park as would be expected with any motion, as everyone has different views and wants for our town.

“As a council, we aim to cater for everyone, no matter their need. In this case, the need is a free space for people to let their dogs off the lead, whilst encouraging those who let their dogs off the lead in the playing field to instead use the dog park, and we will be looking at additional signage to support this.

Open mind

“However, it goes deeper than that, to some people a dog is their only companion and they would otherwise feel lonely and possibly not leave the house, but now they have somewhere to go. A dog may be an alternative for people who are unable to or choose not to have children and now have an additional activity to do in our communal park area as a family. It is about keeping an open mind for everyone in our town.

“One of the main concerns was around how the dog park is being funded. We have agreed to spend up to £20,000, this is a maximum spend and does not mean we will be spending that much. The funding used for dog equipment would have fallen into general reserves at the end of the 2022 to 2023’s financial year and I can reassure residents there is still money earmarked for improvements to play areas.


“I also have seen concerns about flooding; I would remind residents that for many years, the children’s park was in the same area, and the dog park will be accessible for a majority of the year rather than a minority due to flooding.

“All in all, this is a great asset to many, and would only add another feature to our town that would encourage footfall.

“We now have a brilliant park and Splash Pad for children, a skate park and shelter for teenagers, the cafe opening for anyone to access and sit outside, a playing field to play on and have family picnics, and now a functional dog park for dog owners, all in one space.”

One Response to Residents divided over dog park agility equipment spend

  1. Darren Grainger

    May 26, 2023 at 5:15 pm

    Whilst keeping an open mind I decided to crunch some numbers, which I assume our councillors have done. All numbers pulled from google and I have rounded. Sources include kennel club, PDSA, JRF. Population of Melksham around 18000. 29% of the population have dogs. Just over 5000 dogs in Melksham. Of the 11 million dogs in the UK around 24000 or 0.22% are involved in agility. In Melksham that equates to 11 dogs. So approximate spend of £1000 per dog. 20% are low income houses, so that is 2 low income dogs. Keeping an open mind but this appears to be a large amount of money to be spending.

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