It's bad news for Manly dog owners and their pets. Professional dog walkers have been savaged by a recent council decision to ban them from LM Graham Reserve, reduce their numbers and limit the number of dogs they can walk each day.
Last month, without consulting dog owners or dog walking businesses, the council closed Graham Reserve to commercial dog walkers. This is despite it being considered the safest local dog venue as it has a designated, fenced dog exercise area. That means that only Seaforth Oval, Tania Park and Manly Lagoon Reserve remain available for the businesses to use.
In addition, dog walkers numbers have been cut by means of a new permit system. The council issued nine permits only - not nearly enough to meet demand. To make matters worse, each dog walker is only allowed two walks per day at one designated venue.
Dog owners are furious, with more than 600 signing a petition for change. They want more permits, more walks per permit, and for Graham Reserve to remain part of the mix. They also accuse Manly Council of breaching the 1993 Local Government Act by failing to comply with a requirement for community consultation.
“Manly is an area of dog lovers”, Good For Manly Cr Candy Bingham said.
“It is estimated that about 50% of people here own dogs. Most of them walk their own dogs, but many use the services of professional dog walkers. Now we have a situation where there are just not enough to go around.
“Of course we need to balance the use of our public parkland so everyone can enjoy it, but the existing system was working well. I don’t know why the council didn’t talk to the people involved before rushing into this decision.”
Cr Bingham is also concerned that local dog walkers missed out on the permits, with several going to out-of-area businesses. "It concerns me that once again Council seems to have made a rushed decision with no consultation. Even the Councillors had not been informed", she said.
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.