Proposals to ban dogs from public spaces in Nottingham - evidence to support your claims required, please.

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Dear Nottingham City Council,

PROPOSALS TO BAN DOGS FROM PUBLIC SPACES IN NOTTINGHAM

According to the Nottingham Post of 17th May 2016, the City Council is considering banning dogs from open spaces in the City.

The Post states:

"A report from the council said: "The council has considerable evidence of dogs damaging children's playground equipment at numerous sites across the administrative area of Nottingham, and reports of dogs causing considerable alarm and distress to park/public open space users and pedestrians generally."

Under the Freedom of Information Act, I am therefore writing to request:

a) that you provide the 'considerable evidence' you claim you have of dogs damaging children's playground equipment at numerous sites across the administrative area of Nottingham;
b) that you provide (anonymised) copies of all reports you have of 'dogs causing considerable alarm and distress to park-public open space users and pedestrians generally.'

c) Copies of all Minutes of meetings pertaining to the proposals, including research conducted by any Working Party that the Council might have set up to explore the idea of banning dogs from Nottingham's public spaces.

Yours faithfully

Penny Bunn

Nottingham City Council

THIS IS AN AUTOMATED ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF YOUR ENQUIRY

Dear Penny Bunn,

Nottingham City Council acknowledge the receipt of your email.

Your enquiry has been given the reference number IG/7703. A case officer
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Information Management Services

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Nottingham City Council
Loxley House
Station Street
Nottingham
NG3 2NG

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Information Rights, Nottingham City Council

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Dear Ms Bunn,

 

Please find attached the response to your request under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

Kind regards,

 

Information Officer

Information Rights & Insight Team | Information Management Services

show quoted sections

Dear Nottingham City Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Nottingham City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Proposals to ban dogs from public spaces in Nottingham - evidence to support your claims required, please.'.

a) In the response, your Information Officer (no name given) claims that "The Council has received in excess of 1000 responses to our consultation survey. Enclosed within these questionnaire responses are a number of reports from citizens of dogs causing considerable alarm and distress to members of the public. " The Information Officer has said that s/he is therefore issuing a Partial Refusal under Section 17 of the Act, because this information is held elsewhere and available for public inspection only if I attend the offices in person and plough through 1,000 boxed surveys.

This CANNOT be right. The Council certainly didn't plough through 1,000 surveys at the Council meeting held on 17th May, 2016. Councillors MUST HAVE had a condensed report, giving the results of all those surveys, AND including a conclusion, to enable them to make a decision. If they did not, then they clearly haven't relied on ANY evidence at all and the claims they have made that they did so are blatantly untrue.

I am requesting a copy of the documentation that was composed, containing the results of ALL the surveys, please. Or, confirmation that no such documentation exists and that contrary to what the Council is claiming, nobody has been through the surveys to assess public opinion or experiences on this matter.

b) In the report featured in the Evening Post, a Council spokesman claimed that the Council had in its possession: "reports of dogs causing considerable alarm and distress to park/public open space users and pedestrians generally." Yet in the response I have received from your (unnamed) Information Officer, s/he is claiming that: "a number of reports of dogs causing considerable alarm and distress to
park users were identified through our partnership working with the police and
obtained through police computer systems. This information is for the police to share
and therefore cannot be disclosed in accordance with Section 1 of the Act as it is not
held by the Council. "

Again, councillors CANNOT have made any decision about the extent to which members of the public are experiencing 'considerable alarm and distress' from dogs, unless they have the information to hand. This should have been in the form of some sort of documented evidence submitted to the Council from the police, or composed by the Council based on information provided by the police. Again, Councillors CANNOT have made a decision without having this information in front of them and if it is held by the police, then they obviously can't have seen it, at their meeting of 17th May 2016.

So, WHICH is true, please? If councillors DID see a report on the amount of distress members of the public have suffered, then I have a right to have a copy of that. In which case, the Council CANNOT refuse to provide it.

If, in fact, councillors did NOT see a copy of the report (because the information is held by police), then the councils claims are obviously untrue and need to be reported to the relevant authorities.

c) I can see no evidence that any report on a) customer surveys or b) police and council records of people being caused distress by dogs was viewed by councillors at the meeting on 17th May. So, how was any decision about PSPOs made, please?

d) The Excel spreadsheet that the (unnamed) Information Officer has sent through, entitled 'Copy of confirmed issues of dog damage' seems to clearly indicate that there has been NO dog damage at any of the playgrounds in question! All of them are rated 'Low' risk, with only one or two rated 'medium' risk. So, HOW has the Council concluded that this is evidential proof of dog damage at these sites?

e) The photographs I have been sent, which supposedly show damage done by dogs to children's play equipment, show only that someone has been vandalising that play equipment. I see evidence of a lot of knife damage, and possibly the burning of plastic seats on swings. It is clear that someone has smashed the foot area of one play item. For a dog to do this amount of damage (which has obviously occurred a while ago and is not recent), persons would have had to stand FOR SOME HOURS, with their dog chewing hard on both sides of a swing seat. I am astonished if this is what the Council is claiming. It is neither feasible nor possible that dogs could do this kind of damage and I require some kind of explanation, please.

Meanwhile, I will publish a LINK to the pictures I have been sent, on my campaign pages. By publishing the link to the information you have sent through (which is held on the public website, What Do They Know?, I will be complying with copyright by not reproducing the photographs you have sent, but instead providing a link to where they can find the pictures.

I will ask other dog owners across the UK to have a look at the photographs I have been sent and submit their thoughts on whether or not dogs could have done this sort of damage.

I expect that the link will be shared to several other campaign sites across the UK and I will be interested to see what the response is from the UK's dog owners.

It is clear to me that the Council has made false claims in order to introduce PSPOs. If survey results have not been compiled into a single report, and findings and conclusions published, then there's no way the council can claim to have 'evidence' of anything, or to have reached a considered decision based on evidential proof. Out of 1,000 surveys, NONE of them might feature any complaint about dogs. They might ALL be saying there's no problem with dogs whatsoever, at any of the venues the Council focused upon. How does anybody know, if the survey results have not been properly assessed and compiled into a report? Similarly, unless the Council has documented evidence from the police, on which to base their PSPO decisions, then no claim can be made that there IS evidence to support Council claims that people have suffered 'distress' as a result of out-of-control dogs.

I suggest that the Council just wanted to introduce a load of PSPOs, so made a statement to the Evening Post, making claims it cannot substantiate. This is hate speech; blaming dog owners for something that the Council cannot prove and for which it apparently has no evidence. Since no documentation whatsoever seems to have been referenced in the meeting of 27th May, I can only conclude that there wasn't any.

I intend to make formal complaints about this so I would be grateful if you could please look into this matter and either supply the reports I have requested, or explain why the Council felt the need to make false claims against dog owners in Nottingham.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

Penny Bunn

Penny Bunn left an annotation ()

PLEASE NOTE that regarding the Council's claim that the POLICE hold the information related to "park users being subjected to distress" by dogs, I have sent a separate FOIA request to Nottinghamshire Police, requesting copies of this information.

You can view the request, and their response, at: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Nottingham City Council

THIS IS AN AUTOMATED ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF YOUR REQUEST FOR A REVIEW

Dear Penny Bunn,

Nottingham City Council acknowledge the receipt of your email.

Your request for a review of case reference number IG/7703 has been
received and logged. An appropriate officer will be assigned to your
request and you will receive a response in due course.

Please note you should expect a response to a request that falls under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 within 20 working days of receipt of your enquiry. You
should expect a response to a request that falls under the Data Protection
Act 1998 (requests for personal information) within 40 calendar days of
receipt of your enquiry.

Regards,

Information Management Services

FOI and EIR Requests:
Email: [Nottingham City Council request email]
Tel: 0115 8764376

Data Protection Subject Access Requests:
Email: [email address]
Tel: 0115 8763855

Nottingham City Council
Loxley House
Station Street
Nottingham
NG3 2NG

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Information Rights, Nottingham City Council

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Good afternoon Ms Bunn

 

Please find attached our response to your request for an Internal Review
made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Regards

 

Information Rights & Insight Team | Information Management Services

Nottingham City Council | Loxley House | Station Street | Nottingham | NG2
3NG

Telephone:  0115 8763855

Team No.    0115 87 64376

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