A local resident was walking his well-behaved dog on a lead in the Rye cemetery recently when he was approached by a uniformed man who fined him £100 for being in the wrong part of the cemetery with his dog. The report of this incident in the Nextdoor app recently sparked comments from others who had similar experiences with their dogs in Rye cemetery. Strong views expressed reasons for and against better signage and whether or not these fines are an unnecessary infringement of our civil liberties.
Official responses sought from the cemeteries officer and the environmental health officer at Rother District Council (RDC) and the principal rights of way officer from the rights of way and countryside department of East Sussex County Council concurred that it is legal to walk your dog on a lead ONLY on the gravel pathways through Rye cemetery.
National Enforcement Solutions Ltd (NES) have a one-year concessionary agreement with RDC to enforce all environmental offences, including dog fouling, littering and unauthorised disposal of waste. This is on the basis that there is no cost to the council. They are also solely responsible for their operations and deal with all appeals against fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued.
Their employees wear body cams when patrolling and sometimes issue fines to dog walkers they consider to be illegal in this cemetery. NES officers are not employed by Rother District Council.
Without wishing to wield “an enormous metaphysical sledgehammer to crack an inconsequential nut” as one person described this issue, the importance of each dog owner to each take responsibility for picking up their dog’s poo is a given. A plea for more bins could encourage owners to do this.
Apart from dog hygiene, surely maintaining a respectful serene peaceful atmosphere is what really matters most in our cemetery. Dogs can be very comforting to their owners if they are visiting the graves of their loved ones. These graves can be some distance away from the gravel paths. If it’s OK for rabbits, foxes and badgers to roam freely in the cemetery and it’s OK to walk our dogs on leads in the ancient cemeteries of the Rye churchyard… are these fines and restrictions really necessary and/or appropriate?
Image Credits: Nick Forman .