Renewal of Diamond Fishing Club Lease, Cotgrave Country Park - 2nd FOIA Request

The request was successful.

FAO: Wendy Hallam
Information Officer
Complaints & Information Team

Dear Ms Hallam

Follow-up FOIA Request linked to previous request Ref NCC 007926-12

I thank you for your response to my FOIA request regarding renewal of the Diamond Fishing Club lease at Cotgrave Country Park. Unfortunately, on a couple of points, your reply to my enquiry has raised more queries than it has answered.

Therefore, under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, I make the following requests for information:

1. Regarding your responses 4/5 and 6/7. I am quite happy to send Cllr Richard Butler copies of complaint letters and petitions that may be submitted objecting to renewal of the Fishing Club lease. However, previous experience of Cllr Butler's lack of action to protect the interests of dog walkers convinces me that he is unlikely to do much on our behalf. I am also happy to ask people to send copies of their letters and petitions to the NCC Property Department.

However, it is clear that there will be a specific individual dealing with the decision about whether or not to renew the Fishing Club lease and it is THEIR name and job title I required, please. I would be grateful if you could provide this.

Regarding your point 11 in your reply:

Under the terms of the FOIA, can you please provide the following:

1. The name of the specific law which states that to ‘disturb’ wildlife is illegal. I know of no such law and a search on the legal sites, and Defra, has not come up with any recently introduced legislation which stipulates that it is an illegal offence to ‘disturb’ wildlife. I know it is illegal to hunt wildlife with dogs, and there are some protected species where it would be an offence for a dog to harm them in any way. I must point out that the dog walkers I represent do NOT want to cause any kind of harm to the wildlife at the Country Park; they simply want the right to enjoy the park facilities rather than being forced to surrender them to other parties. I would appreciate copies of the information you obviously have, please, wherein it stipulates ‘disturbing’ wildlife as being a criminal offence.

2. Please provide documented, valid evidence of the problems you say are being caused at Cotgrave Country Park by ‘uncontrolled dog use’. Please note, that by this I mean proper, official reports from respected authorities, NOT hearsay from members of the Diamond Fishing Club.

Please note that in previous research into the matter, undertaken using proper interviewing techniques as stipulated by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, I have been unable to find any evidence whatsoever that there is any factual foundation to allegations about dogs attacking wildlife. For my research (conducted February 2010), I contacted the local and national branches of the RSPCA, Defra, The Environment Agency, the Office of National Statistics and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. I requested from each of them any information or statistics they had on wildlife deaths caused by fishing tackle and wildlife deaths caused by dog attacks. I did not, in the first instance, clarify to any of them why I wanted this information. The RSPCA could not assist, but advised that the other agencies I have listed would have records of the information I required. In every case, these authorities said they had no statistics on deaths of wildlife caused by dogs, since it only happened very rarely; and that the greatest threat to wildlife is caused by fishing. Some of those I spoke to went into great detail about the ongoing problem they have with fishing lines, hooks and weights causing death or serious injury to wildlife, particularly to swans. RSPCA figures at the time stood at 3,000 swan deaths a year caused by fishing equipment. The Environment Agency also provided me with a copy of their report, “The Impact of Lost and Discarded Fishing Line and Tackle on Mute Swans" (available from: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/res...). The report presents the findings of a four-year study, commissioned by the Environment Agency, into swan deaths caused by fishing. On pages 17, 18 and in the conclusion to the report, the authors strongly recommend that fishermen should be segregated from areas where swans live and breed, and state that where this has been trialled, there has been a significant reduction in the number of swan deaths caused by fishing tackle. Yet for some reason, here in Cotgrave, the area where the swans live and breed – the Heron Lake - has been turned into a fisherman’s haven, and deaths to wildlife that have resulted from their sport have been unnecessarily blamed on the dog walkers. The Fishing Club continues to accuse dogs of harming and killing wildlife down at the Country Park, despite the fact that not a single organisation I have spoken to on the subject has any facts and figures to back this up; and despite the fact that the fishing club has not produced a shred of evidence to support its claims.

Therefore, Since you obviously DO have access to such information, from official organisations such as those I have outlined above, I’d be grateful if you could provide it, please.

3. Under the terms of the FOIA, please also provide:

a) copies of any unsubstantiated reports you have regarding attacks on wildlife at Cotgrave Country Park. Obviously, I appreciate that these will have to be anonymised under the terms of the Data Protection Act and I will assume, unless otherwise stated, that they have come from members of the Diamond Fishing Club.
b) Information on what has been done to verify these accounts and the authorities and public bodies I can contact for verification.

I undertook my research two years ago in response to what was later proven to be a completely untrue tale, put about Cotgrave by members of the Diamond Fishing Club: that a dog had killed a swan down at the Country Park. My phone calls to the agencies I have listed in point 2), above, proved that no report had been registered with any of them regarding a swan death caused by a dog attack, and I believe it is a legal requirement to register any such deaths with the relevant authorities.

Furthermore, our local vet at the time – Mr James Reeves, of Candleby Veterinary Surgery in Cotgrave – was the first point of contact on behalf of the RSPCA in the event of wildlife injuries or deaths, and this alleged incident had never been reported to him, either, other than in the form of village gossip.

At the end of this letter, I am attaching a witness statement from someone who actually SAW the swan death take place. You will note that the witness clearly saw two fishermen trying to untie fishing line from around the swan in question - something which they failed to achieve. You will note that the witness examined the swan and could find no evidence of bite or teeth marks. You will note that the swan disappeared (apparently without its death being reported) and the rumours of the dog attack started soon after.

This witness statement has been submitted to the Council (via Lee Scudder) and also to Rushcliffe Borough Council (twice), but nobody seems to have done anything about it.

Can you please provide evidence that:

c) You have been made aware of the witness statement by Lee Scudder or another member of his department.
d) You have investigated the matter thoroughly with the Fishing Club and have either agreed that the dog attack story was a defamatory lie, or have acquired hard evidence proving that it did take place.
e) If you established that the story was untrue, please provide information about the actions taken against Diamond Fishing Club for spreading defamatory stories about the dog walkers, with the aim of appropriating the Heron Lake for their own benefit.
f) That you have contacted the witness to validate her story. The witness statement has obviously been anonymised for the purposes of publishing it on the What Do They Know? website, but if you wish me to provide a signed copy with the witness’s contact details on it, please do let me know. The witness has given permission for this statement to be released to the authorities and is happy to speak to them about it.
g) Please confirm that the swan death WAS reported to the authorities and provide me with details of which authority dealt with it, so that I may contact them for verification of the facts.
h) If you have done nothing about this witness statement, please state why.

4. If the Council wishes to introduce a DCO around the Heron Lake, as you suggest, please outline what steps will be taken to prove that (according to Defra requirements) the DCO is a ‘necessary and proportionate response to the activities caused by dogs and those in charge of them.’ You are also under an obligation to ‘balance the interests of those in charge of dogs against the activities of those affected by the activities of dogs.... and the need for those in charge of dogs to have access to areas where they can exercise their dogs without undue restrictions’. I think it is clear that the demands of the fishing club are taking precedence over the needs of other park users, particularly those who (often on vet’s advice) wish to exercise their dogs by allowing them to swim.

a. Can you please provide evidence that you intend to follow Defra requirements and which shows that you are listening to the needs of dog owners and Fishing Club members.

5. Please confirm that before any DCO is introduced at the Heron Lake, the County Council will conduct a public consultation, which will include publishing the intention to introduce the proposed order in a local newspaper.
a) Please state in which local newspaper/s the consultation about a DCO proposal would be published.
b) Please confirm that in accordance with Defra requirements, you would also publish a notice describing the proposed order on your website.

6. In his email to me dated 26th January 2011, Lee Scudder of Notts County Council confirmed: "The fishing lease certainly does not confer any authority over any other users of the Country Park and clearly this message has not gone home. I will contact the Club Secretary with a view to address their next club meeting to ensure this is fully understood and made clear to all members.”

Clearly, Mr Scudder’s view of the Fishing Club members policing other park users conflicts quite dramatically with yours.

Can you therefore please provide evidence of the agreement between the County Council and the Fishing Club, in which the role of the policing of the park by the fishing club has been conferred on them. Please provide evidence that this arrangement has been ratified through agreement with Nottinghamshire Police, a Security Company or someone with the authority to consent to members of the public taking on this role without, apparently, any training or guidance.

If any training of Fishing Club members HAS taken place, please provide details of the type of training they have been given and where the training took place.

7. Please provide the name of the organisation or authority which owned the Heron Lake prior to the Diamond Fishing Club being given the lease in 2002.

If the land was previously owned by another authority or organisation, please provide details of the name of that authority or organisation, and the date on which ownership of the land was transferred to the County Council.

8. Please detail what action was taken against the Fishing Club for the publication (on the Town Council website) of libellous comments about me. I give an example below. Lee Scudder’s response to this, when I sent it to him, was that he and his manager ‘did not want involving’.

“It stood out by a long mile that these two women where only walking there dogs down at the lake to cause trouble and get a reaction from the fishermen so they could report back to Penny Bunn as one of them phoned Penny to tell her that a fisherman had told her to take her dog out if the water well Penny you should be ashamed it was totally out of order what the two women did it was childish and also very petty what you are doing towards the fishing club as an elected cllr you should take your vendetta against the fishing club elsewhere once again apoligies to the fishing club and well done for not rising to the bait (joke) from those two women”

9. A few months ago, a man was seen operating a petrol-powered model boat on the lake. The air was full of petrol smoke and the model boat emitted a great deal of noise. It is my understanding that the boat owner told enquirers that the Fishing Club had given him permission to operate the boat on the lake, which seems to conflict with what you have said in your response to my FOIA request. Please confirm that the Fishing Club has no authority to issue such permission to owners of model boats.

10. Please confirm in writing that you have also given permission for the Fishing Club to issue as many ‘disabled’ parking badges to its members as it sees fit, as agreed with Lee Scudder at an FOCCP meeting last year.

Please note - witness statement follows.

Yours faithfully,

Penny Bunn

============================================================

Statement from Eyewitness ‘A’ – submitted via email, 3rd February 2011

Dear Mr Skudder

I am writing as I had the opportunity the other day to meet Penny Bunn who I understand is trying her very hardest to make sure that Cotgrave Country Park remains an area for us all to enjoy including dogs, wildlife and walkers. I explained to her my horror a couple of years ago when i saw 2 fishermen struggling with a poor swan who had obviously got caught on his hook and line. not wanting to interfere, as I know the fisherman on several occasions during the 5 years I have been walking daily in the park, can be extremely threatening. The following morning whilst on an early morning walk (6am !) my friend and i found a dead swan very near to the place I had seen the fishermen struggling the day before. The swan appeared to have no savage injuries, was not bleeding and I obviously realised that the events of the previous day had caused this poor animal to die, it was the mother to several youngsters, so I found it very upsetting.

A few weeks after that whilst out walking several fishermen tried to tell me a dog had savaged one of the swans and that quote 'bloody dogs should be on a lead' I tried to explain to them I had seen the incident and it was actually a fisherman who had been responsible for that swans death. That lake is there natural habitat, not the fisherman's and I am extremely angry by all the awful signs and fencing that someone has allowed to be erected.

I have never seen a dog out of control and I use the park twice daily, probably 3 hours a day. When it is hot my dog wants to go in the water naturally and I will continue to allow my dog to do that and as I am a responsible person (unlike the fishermen) I always make sure she is in no way bothering any of the wildlife.

The fishermen use the dogs as a way of getting the lake all to themselves and they are irresponsible in many ways, early in a morning when I walk I often walk around the lake and pick up several tin lids, extremely dangerous as they are very sharp and would injure a swan or duck very badly. I know it is the fisherman because they are off tins of sweetcorn which they obviously use as bate. They do not take there rubbish home they hang it on the fence and the abusive words they shout at dog walkers is totally unacceptable. A few years ago my son who was then aged about 16 took my dog to the water for a swim a fisherman actually attacked him, as soon as he got home I went down there to find him, but he had left, very quickly as he knew he would be in trouble.

I think the fencing is appalling and so are the signs it really spoils what should be a lovely place for all to enjoy. i should think someone will rip them down anyway, so it is a wasted exercise.

I hope the fishermen are all informed of the true death of that poor swan instead of being told to stick to some ridiculous lie about its untimely death, I know how it died and I do not tell lies.

Penny Bunn left an annotation ()

This request is LINKED TO original request Ref NCC 007926-12 - Renewal of Diamond Fishing Club Lease, Cotgrave Country Park'.

Enquiries, Nottinghamshire County Council

Thank you for contacting us, you should expect a response from us by the
end of the next day.

Your enquiry is shown below :

FAO: Wendy Hallam
Information Officer
Complaints & Information Team

Dear Ms Hallam

Follow-up FOIA Request linked to previous request Ref NCC 007926-12

I thank you for your response to my FOIA request regarding renewal
of the Diamond Fishing Club lease at Cotgrave Country Park.
Unfortunately, on a couple of points, your reply to my enquiry has
raised more queries than it has answered.

Therefore, under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, I
make the following requests for information:

1. Regarding your responses 4/5 and 6/7. I am quite happy to send
Cllr Richard Butler copies of complaint letters and petitions that
may be submitted objecting to renewal of the Fishing Club lease.
However, previous experience of Cllr Butler's lack of action to
protect the interests of dog walkers convinces me that he is
unlikely to do much on our behalf. I am also happy to ask people to
send copies of their letters and petitions to the NCC Property
Department.

However, it is clear that there will be a specific individual
dealing with the decision about whether or not to renew the Fishing
Club lease and it is THEIR name and job title I required, please. I
would be grateful if you could provide this.

Regarding your point 11 in your reply:

Under the terms of the FOIA, can you please provide the following:

1. The name of the specific law which states that to ‘disturb’
wildlife is illegal. I know of no such law and a search on the
legal sites, and Defra, has not come up with any recently
introduced legislation which stipulates that it is an illegal
offence to ‘disturb’ wildlife. I know it is illegal to hunt
wildlife with dogs, and there are some protected species where it
would be an offence for a dog to harm them in any way. I must point
out that the dog walkers I represent do NOT want to cause any kind
of harm to the wildlife at the Country Park; they simply want the
right to enjoy the park facilities rather than being forced to
surrender them to other parties. I would appreciate copies of the
information you obviously have, please, wherein it stipulates
‘disturbing’ wildlife as being a criminal offence.

2. Please provide documented, valid evidence of the problems you
say are being caused at Cotgrave Country Park by ‘uncontrolled dog
use’. Please note, that by this I mean proper, official reports
from respected authorities, NOT hearsay from members of the Diamond
Fishing Club.

Please note that in previous research into the matter, undertaken
using proper interviewing techniques as stipulated by the Chartered
Institute of Marketing, I have been unable to find any evidence
whatsoever that there is any factual foundation to allegations
about dogs attacking wildlife. For my research (conducted February
2010), I contacted the local and national branches of the RSPCA,
Defra, The Environment Agency, the Office of National Statistics
and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. I requested from each of them
any information or statistics they had on wildlife deaths caused by
fishing tackle and wildlife deaths caused by dog attacks. I did
not, in the first instance, clarify to any of them why I wanted
this information. The RSPCA could not assist, but advised that the
other agencies I have listed would have records of the information
I required. In every case, these authorities said they had no
statistics on deaths of wildlife caused by dogs, since it only
happened very rarely; and that the greatest threat to wildlife is
caused by fishing. Some of those I spoke to went into great detail
about the ongoing problem they have with fishing lines, hooks and
weights causing death or serious injury to wildlife, particularly
to swans. RSPCA figures at the time stood at 3,000 swan deaths a
year caused by fishing equipment. The Environment Agency also
provided me with a copy of their report, “The Impact of Lost and
Discarded Fishing Line and Tackle on Mute Swans" (available from:
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/res...).

The report presents the findings of a four-year study, commissioned
by the Environment Agency, into swan deaths caused by fishing. On
pages 17, 18 and in the conclusion to the report, the authors
strongly recommend that fishermen should be segregated from areas
where swans live and breed, and state that where this has been
trialled, there has been a significant reduction in the number of
swan deaths caused by fishing tackle. Yet for some reason, here in
Cotgrave, the area where the swans live and breed – the Heron Lake
- has been turned into a fisherman’s haven, and deaths to wildlife
that have resulted from their sport have been unnecessarily blamed
on the dog walkers. The Fishing Club continues to accuse dogs of
harming and killing wildlife down at the Country Park, despite the
fact that not a single organisation I have spoken to on the subject
has any facts and figures to back this up; and despite the fact
that the fishing club has not produced a shred of evidence to
support its claims.

Therefore, Since you obviously DO have access to such information,
from official organisations such as those I have outlined above,
I’d be grateful if you could provide it, please.

3. Under the terms of the FOIA, please also provide:

a) copies of any unsubstantiated reports you have regarding attacks
on wildlife at Cotgrave Country Park. Obviously, I appreciate that
these will have to be anonymised under the terms of the Data
Protection Act and I will assume, unless otherwise stated, that
they have come from members of the Diamond Fishing Club.
b) Information on what has been done to verify these accounts and
the authorities and public bodies I can contact for verification.

I undertook my research two years ago in response to what was later
proven to be a completely untrue tale, put about Cotgrave by
members of the Diamond Fishing Club: that a dog had killed a swan
down at the Country Park. My phone calls to the agencies I have
listed in point 2), above, proved that no report had been
registered with any of them regarding a swan death caused by a dog
attack, and I believe it is a legal requirement to register any
such deaths with the relevant authorities.

Furthermore, our local vet at the time – Mr James Reeves, of
Candleby Veterinary Surgery in Cotgrave – was the first point of
contact on behalf of the RSPCA in the event of wildlife injuries or
deaths, and this alleged incident had never been reported to him,
either, other than in the form of village gossip.

At the end of this letter, I am attaching a witness statement from
someone who actually SAW the swan death take place. You will note
that the witness clearly saw two fishermen trying to untie fishing
line from around the swan in question - something which they failed
to achieve. You will note that the witness examined the swan and
could find no evidence of bite or teeth marks. You will note that
the swan disappeared (apparently without its death being reported)
and the rumours of the dog attack started soon after.

This witness statement has been submitted to the Council (via Lee
Scudder) and also to Rushcliffe Borough Council (twice), but nobody
seems to have done anything about it.

Can you please provide evidence that:

c) You have been made aware of the witness statement by Lee Scudder
or another member of his department.
d) You have investigated the matter thoroughly with the Fishing
Club and have either agreed that the dog attack story was a
defamatory lie, or have acquired hard evidence proving that it did
take place.
e) If you established that the story was untrue, please provide
information about the actions taken against Diamond Fishing Club
for spreading defamatory stories about the dog walkers, with the
aim of appropriating the Heron Lake for their own benefit.
f) That you have contacted the witness to validate her story. The
witness statement has obviously been anonymised for the purposes of
publishing it on the What Do They Know? website, but if you wish me
to provide a signed copy with the witness’s contact details on it,
please do let me know. The witness has given permission for this
statement to be released to the authorities and is happy to speak
to them about it.
g) Please confirm that the swan death WAS reported to the
authorities and provide me with details of which authority dealt
with it, so that I may contact them for verification of the facts.
h) If you have done nothing about this witness statement, please
state why.

4. If the Council wishes to introduce a DCO around the Heron Lake,
as you suggest, please outline what steps will be taken to prove
that (according to Defra requirements) the DCO is a ‘necessary and
proportionate response to the activities caused by dogs and those
in charge of them.’ You are also under an obligation to ‘balance
the interests of those in charge of dogs against the activities of
those affected by the activities of dogs.... and the need for those
in charge of dogs to have access to areas where they can exercise
their dogs without undue restrictions’. I think it is clear that
the demands of the fishing club are taking precedence over the
needs of other park users, particularly those who (often on vet’s
advice) wish to exercise their dogs by allowing them to swim.

a. Can you please provide evidence that you intend to follow Defra
requirements and which shows that you are listening to the needs of
dog owners and Fishing Club members.

5. Please confirm that before any DCO is introduced at the Heron
Lake, the County Council will conduct a public consultation, which
will include publishing the intention to introduce the proposed
order in a local newspaper.
a) Please state in which local newspaper/s the consultation about a
DCO proposal would be published.
b) Please confirm that in accordance with Defra requirements, you
would also publish a notice describing the proposed order on your
website.

6. In his email to me dated 26th January 2011, Lee Scudder of Notts
County Council confirmed: "The fishing lease certainly does not
confer any authority over any other users of the Country Park and
clearly this message has not gone home. I will contact the Club
Secretary with a view to address their next club meeting to ensure
this is fully understood and made clear to all members.”

Clearly, Mr Scudder’s view of the Fishing Club members policing
other park users conflicts quite dramatically with yours.

Can you therefore please provide evidence of the agreement between
the County Council and the Fishing Club, in which the role of the
policing of the park by the fishing club has been conferred on
them. Please provide evidence that this arrangement has been
ratified through agreement with Nottinghamshire Police, a Security
Company or someone with the authority to consent to members of the
public taking on this role without, apparently, any training or
guidance.

If any training of Fishing Club members HAS taken place, please
provide details of the type of training they have been given and
where the training took place.

7. Please provide the name of the organisation or authority which
owned the Heron Lake prior to the Diamond Fishing Club being given
the lease in 2002.

If the land was previously owned by another authority or
organisation, please provide details of the name of that authority
or organisation, and the date on which ownership of the land was
transferred to the County Council.

8. Please detail what action was taken against the Fishing Club for
the publication (on the Town Council website) of libellous comments
about me. I give an example below. Lee Scudder’s response to this,
when I sent it to him, was that he and his manager ‘did not want
involving’.

“It stood out by a long mile that these two women where only
walking there dogs down at the lake to cause trouble and get a
reaction from the fishermen so they could report back to Penny Bunn
as one of them phoned Penny to tell her that a fisherman had told
her to take her dog out if the water well Penny you should be
ashamed it was totally out of order what the two women did it was
childish and also very petty what you are doing towards the fishing
club as an elected cllr you should take your vendetta against the
fishing club elsewhere once again apoligies to the fishing club and
well done for not rising to the bait (joke) from those two women”

9. A few months ago, a man was seen operating a petrol-powered
model boat on the lake. The air was full of petrol smoke and the
model boat emitted a great deal of noise. It is my understanding
that the boat owner told enquirers that the Fishing Club had given
him permission to operate the boat on the lake, which seems to
conflict with what you have said in your response to my FOIA
request. Please confirm that the Fishing Club has no authority to
issue such permission to owners of model boats.

10. Please confirm in writing that you have also given permission
for the Fishing Club to issue as many ‘disabled’ parking badges to
its members as it sees fit, as agreed with Lee Scudder at an FOCCP
meeting last year.

Please note - witness statement follows.

Yours faithfully,

Penny Bunn

============================================================

Statement from Eyewitness ‘A’ – submitted via email, 3rd February
2011

Dear Mr Skudder

I am writing as I had the opportunity the other day to meet Penny
Bunn who I understand is trying her very hardest to make sure that
Cotgrave Country Park remains an area for us all to enjoy including
dogs, wildlife and walkers. I explained to her my horror a couple
of years ago when i saw 2 fishermen struggling with a poor swan whohad
obviously got caught on his hook and line. not wanting to
interfere, as I know the fisherman on several occasions during the
5 years I have been walking daily in the park, can be extremely
threatening. The following morning whilst on an early morning walk
(6am !) my friend and i found a dead swan very near to the place I
had seen the fishermen struggling the day before. The swan appeared
to have no savage injuries, was not bleeding and I obviously
realised that the events of the previous day had caused this poor
animal to die, it was the mother to several youngsters, so I found
it very upsetting.

A few weeks after that whilst out walking several fishermen tried
to tell me a dog had savaged one of the swans and that quote
'bloody dogs should be on a lead' I tried to explain to them I had
seen the incident and it was actually a fisherman who had been
responsible for that swans death. That lake is there natural
habitat, not the fisherman's and I am extremely angry by all the
awful signs and fencing that someone has allowed to be erected.

I have never seen a dog out of control and I use the park twice
daily, probably 3 hours a day. When it is hot my dog wants to go in
the water naturally and I will continue to allow my dog to do that
and as I am a responsible person (unlike the fishermen) I always
make sure she is in no way bothering any of the wildlife.

The fishermen use the dogs as a way of getting the lake all to
themselves and they are irresponsible in many ways, early in a
morning when I walk I often walk around the lake and pick up
several tin lids, extremely dangerous as they are very sharp and
would injure a swan or duck very badly. I know it is the fisherman
because they are off tins of sweetcorn which they obviously use as
bate. They do not take there rubbish home they hang it on the fence
and the abusive words they shout at dog walkers is totally
unacceptable. A few years ago my son who was then aged about 16
took my dog to the water for a swim a fisherman actually attacked
him, as soon as he got home I went down there to find him, but he
had left, very quickly as he knew he would be in trouble.

I think the fencing is appalling and so are the signs it really
spoils what should be a lovely place for all to enjoy. i should
think someone will rip them down anyway, so it is a wasted
exercise.

I hope the fishermen are all informed of the true death of that
poor swan instead of being told to stick to some ridiculous lie
about its untimely death, I know how it died and I do not tell
lies.

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Nottinghamshire County Council

Dear Penny Bunn ,

Following your recent email, unfortunately I am not able to answer your enquiry so I have raised it with a specialist and we will get back to you directly.

Alternatively, for any other information and advice on all County Council services please visit our website at http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk or email us at [Nottinghamshire County Council request email]

Yours sincerely
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Customer Services

Nottinghamshire County Council

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Nottinghamshire County Council

Dear Ms Bunn

ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REGULATIONS - REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
Thank you for your request for information relating to Cotgrave Country
Park & related wildlife attacks, which we received on 02 July 2012. We are
dealing with your request under the Environmental Information Regulations
2004.

As required by the legislation, we aim to answer your request within 20
working days, therefore, you should receive a response by 30 July 2012.

For your information, the regulations define a number of exemptions which
may prevent release of the information. There will be an assessment of the
information you have requested and if an exemption applies the information
will not be released. You will be informed if this is the case, including
your rights of appeal.

If you would like the information supplied in any particular format, for
example in another language, in audio or large print, then please let me
know. If you are willing to receive the information electronically, please
let me have your e-mail address if you have not already done so.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me.

Further information about your rights under the Environmental Information
Regulations is available from the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45
www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Complaints & Information Team
Policy Planning & Corporate Services Department
Nottinghamshire County Council
Tel 0115 9772788
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Dear Ms Bunn
 
Ref NCC 008078-12
 
Thank you for your request for further information relating to Cotgrave
Country Park.  I can now let you have the following information in
response to the questions you raised.  I have retained your numbering for
ease of reference.
 
The person who will be dealing with the lease is:
 
Karen Bullen
Team Manager - Property Management Team
Trent Bridge House
Fox Road
West Bridgford
NG2 6BJ
 
1.  The Wildlife and Countryside Act, particularly in relation to birds
listed in Schedule 1, some of which use the lake and its margins.
 
2.  No documented evidence held relating to problems caused by dogs at
the park  and no information available from official organisations
relating to wildlife deaths caused by dogs.
 
3. a)  No reports held on attacks on wildlife by dogs.
 
3. c)-g)  I can confirm that the witness statement was received on behalf
of the Council by Lee Scudder, the Site Manager.  I am told that at this
time various incidents (going back over some time) between dogs, swans and
other wildfowl were being reported and discussed at the FoCCP meetings and
there was some confusion over two swan attacks and one, or possibly two,
deaths.  Feelings were running high and in this context of rumour, hearsay
and counter claims, the Site Manager took the view that it would have been
very difficult to investigate a further statement reporting an incident
which occurred "a couple of years ago" in which a swan may have been
killed by either a dog or as a result of discarded fishing line.  The Site
Manager took the view that it was more important to try to resolve
differences and build relationships rather than apportion blame.
 
This incident was not reported to any authorities for a number of reasons:
the incident had occurred a couple of years ago and no facts were now
available.  Furthermore, deaths of single wading birds, gulls, ducks and
swans should be reported to the Department of Agriculture and Rural
Development if it is suspected that this might be due to some disease -
which was clearly not the case.  This is an advisory, not a statutory
requirement for the Council.
 
4. & 5.  The statutory control of dogs is a matter for district councils. 
The County Council can only request an order.  The district council is
responsible for following the proper procedures and carrying out the
appropriate consultation before deciding whether or not an order is
appropriate.
 
6.  Members of the fishing club do not have a role in policing the park. 
Under the terms of their lease they are obliged not to bring dogs into the
fishing area.  You were sent a copy of the lease in response to a previous
request but I have attached another copy for convenience and I would refer
you to point 5.3 of the "Tenant's Obligations".  This obligation refers
only to Heron Lake and not to the other water bodies in the park.
 
7.  The County Council acquired what is now Cotgrave Country Park as an
unrestored colliery site from British Coal in November 1997.  Heron Lake
was created from sludge lagoons and balancing ponds when the site was
restored to a country park.  The first letting of the lake was to the
Diamond Fishing Club in 2002.
 
8.  This is not a matter for the County Council.  Libel is a civil
matter and the County Council has no statutory powers to intervene in a
civil case between individuals.  Action will need to be taken by the
aggrieved party.
 
9.  I can confirm that the Diamond Fishing Club has no authority to allow
owners of model boats to use Heron Lake.
 
10. It is the County Council's policy to encourage disabled access.   It
was agreed verbally with the Fishing Club that they could issue 'blue
badges' to their disabled members so that they could more easily access
the fishing pegs on the western side of the fishing lake.
 

I hope this is helpful.  If you are unhappy with the way your request was
dealt with and wish to make a complaint, please write to the Team Manager,
Complaints and Information, County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2
7QP or e-mail [email address] quoting the reference above. 
Following this, if you remain dissatisfied, you can apply to the
Information Commissioner, however, the Information Commissioner does not
usually make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure
provided by the County Council.  The information Commissioner can be
contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Tel: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45

[1]www.ico.gov.uk

 
Yours sincerely
 
Wendy Hallam
Information Officer
 
Complaints & Information Team
Policy Planning & Corporate Services Department
Nottinghamshire County Council
Tel 0115 9772788
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Dear Ms Hallam

I thank you for your response to my FOIA request about the above matter.

1. Yet AGAIN you are misquoting the law at me, regarding disturbance of wildlife around the lake. S1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act pertains to persons WILFULLY killing, harming or taking eggs from nesting birds and their chicks. Nobody at Cotgrave Country Park is doing that - indeed, you have not a shred of evidence to support your claims that 'uncontrolled dog use' might be contravening this Act - so you have no business to be making such an accusation.

2. Since you have confirmed that you have neither official reports, nor any kind of hearsay stories, from any parties, to support your claim, you cannot state that 'uncontrolled dog use' or any activities of dog owners are causing any kind of issue down at Cotgrave Country Park or around the Heron Lake.

3. Your representative has done NOBODY any favours by failing to fully investigate the swan death that did occur at the Country Park and I find your justification for his lack of action completely inadequate. Mr Scudder is very well aware of the amount of arguing, blaming and fighting that has gone on (mainly from members of the Fishing Club) over this matter, and it would have been far better for all concerned if the full facts of this matter had been openly disclosed and dealt with in an honest fashion.

4. The Council's enthusiastic, and unwarranted, accusations against dog owners compared with its total LACK of action when evidence is available that proves the fishing club is responsible for something, is noted.

5. I happened to meet the elderly gentleman who was NAMED by the Diamond Fishing Club members as being responsible for the swan death, in the Country Park the other week. He tells me that once he heard of the accusation, he went immediately to local police, who supplied him with a report from the PDSA stating that "NO external injuries" (which might suggest dog or fox bites) had been found on the swan. I will obviously be requesting copies of this information which will, I expect, go to PROVE that the swan death was caused by fishing line, NOT dog bites. I am damn sure that the County Council could have accessed this information with ease at the time, and in the months and years that followed the incident. A swan death from fishing line would PROVE that fishing in Cotgrave Country Park IS posing a serious risk to wildlife, and using your own arguments, provides justification for closing the fishing club immediately.

6. You cannot, in fairness, accuse dog owners of being responsible of 'disturbing' wildlife, when there is factual information available proving that (as Defra, the Environment Agency and all other such agencies I spoke to during my research stated) FISHING poses the greatest threat to wildlife in this country.

7. Without strong evidence to support any DCO you were considering introducing, I cannot see how you could make any case for doing it, particularly since Defra guidelines are quite stringent and demand that you can demonstrate that your actions are justifiable and appropriate, and make full allowance for the needs of dog walkers.

8. The Council has, I suggest, shown a ludicrous amount of support for the fishing club and a serious bias AGAINST the dog owners, which is completely unwarranted.

9. The lease the Council has granted to the fishing club demands that fishing club members do not take dogs to the Heron Lake. The rest of us who are NOT fishing club members are not affected by this agreement, which cannot be applied to us. Mr Scudder has repeatedly confirmed - in writing and verbally - that dogs can enter the Heron Lake and you cannot stretch a lease agreement with your tenant to suddenly encompass the rest of us.

10. As YOUR TENANT, the fishing club should be held to account by the County Council - the LANDLORD - if any of its members are causing disturbance to others, including threatening members of the public and hurling abuse at them from the lakeside. Dog walkers have repeatedly reported these incidents and the Council has failed to follow its obligations to ensure that its tenant either ceases threatening and abusive behaviour, or has its tenancy revoked.

11. In the same way, you should have taken action against your tenant when members of the Fishing Club published libellous accusations against me all over the internet. You are responsible for your tenants' behaviour and have a Duty of Care to the rest of the neighbourhood to ensure that your tenant does not employ thuggish behaviour in order to exert its perceived territorial rights over the Heron Lake.

12. Please be advised that more and more reports are coming in that model motor boats are being used on the Heron Lake, presumably with permission from the Fishing Club. You might like to investigate this matter.

I thank you for your assistance with my FOIA request, which I will now mark as 'Complete' on the What Do They Know? website. The information you have provided will be used in an article I am writing for a dog owners' magazine, as an example (with several others, unfortunately) of the type of persecution to which we are being unjustly subjected and to call for dog owners across the UK to join a campaign to ensure that our rights are not eroded any further.

Yours sincerely,

Penny Bunn

Nottinghamshire County Council

Dear Ms Bunn
 
Ref NCC 008078-12
 
Thank you for your e-mail dated 24 July.  I have passed a copy on to all
the officers who have been involved in this issue so that they are aware
of the points you have made, in particular the fact that model motor boats
continue to be used on the lake.
 
I hope this is helpful.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Wendy Hallam
Information Officer
 
Complaints & Information Team
Policy Planning & Corporate Services Department
Nottinghamshire County Council
Tel 0115 9772788
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Nottinghamshire County Council are confidential. If you are not the
intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by replying to
the email, and then delete it without making copies or using it in any
other way. Senders and recipients of email should be aware that, under the
Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the
contents may have to be disclosed in response to a request.
Although any attachments to the message will have been checked for viruses
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Dear Ms Hallam

Many thanks for your response and for notifying the relevant parties (especially about current model boat use on the Heron Lake). Your assistance is appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Penny Bunn

Dear Ms Hallam

Further to our previous correspondence, please note that I have now received a response to my FOIA request to Nottinghamshire Police regarding the false allegations that a dog killed a swan in Cotgrave Country Park (referred to in our correspondence, above).

I am copying the relevant portion of the response from Nottinghamshire Police below, as well as my reply to them, which includes a further copy of the witness statement I have previously provided to you.

My FOIA request to Nottinghamshire Police is available on this website and is entitled "Swan Death, Cotgrave Country Park". It can be found at: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/sw....

Since this information through from Nottinghamshire Police confirms that a dog was not responsible for the 2006 swan death, I hope that this will be an end of the matter for all concerned. I hope very much that members of the Diamond Fishing Club (your tenant) will be strongly advised against making false allegations against dog owners in future. I also hope that the County Council will ensure that any further allegations made against dog owners are thoroughly investigated before assumptions are made which may affect the rights of dog owners in the long-term.

Yours sincerely

Penny Bunn

=======================================================

Our Ref: 006034/12

15 November 2012

Dear Ms Bunn

Request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

I write in connection with your request for information, which was received by Nottinghamshire Police on 11 October 2012.

Details of the injuries caused to a swan killed at Cotgrave Country Park, probably in the five years between 2005-2010.

I understand that the details of the swan death were held at Cotgrave Police Station initially. The swan was inspected by a vet at the PDSA and he sent a copy of his report to Cotgrave Police station. If you can provide a copy of the report, I would be very grateful. If not, can you please confirm that the PDSA Vet report states that there are NO BITE MARKS on the swan's body and if possible, tell me what the vet decided was the cause of death. When the report was available at Cotgrave, I understand that a member of the public made enquiries about it and was shown the report, which stated there were no bite mark injuries on the swan. I am looking for confirmation of that, please.

Following receipt of your request searches were conducted within Nottinghamshire Police to locate the information you require.

Please find below answers to your questions:-

RESPONSE

Under S 1 (1) (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), I can confirm that Nottinghamshire Police does hold details concerning the information you have requested.

In June 2006, Nottinghamshire Police received a report that a Swan had been attacked by a dog in Cotgrave Country Park. Nottinghamshire Police’s Wildlife Officer for the area looked into the circumstances, there were no witnesses to the Swan being attacked by a dog, but a dog was seen chasing a Swan. The Wildlife Officer had the RSPCA seize the carcass and a post mortem was undertaken by a vet, I am unable to confirm the cause of death however the officer believes that it was stated as natural causes. There was no evidence of the Swan being attacked by an animal. The RSPCA reviewed the information and advised that this circumstance was not suitable for prosecution.

I have been unable to locate the report that you mention in your request, you may wish to contact the RSPCA who may hold a copy as they would be the prosecuting authority in these cases.

=========================================

Dear Ms Merrin,

I write to thank you very much indeed for your response to my FOIA
request regarding the swan death at Cotgrave Country Park in 2006.
It has been very difficult to get the confirmation through until
now. I did - as you suggest - contact the RSPCA initially,
actually, but they said that as a charity, they did not need to
comply with FOIA requests and refused to provide the information
requested.

The information you have sent through brings an end, finally, to
the years of false accusations and suffering that dog owners using
Cotgrave Country Park have been subjected to for years over this
matter. One elderly gentleman, who has just recently celebrated his
80th birthday, was selected as the person to blame for the
incident. He always denied that his dog had done anything and I do
know he went to Cotgrave Police Station at the time and was shown a
report confirming that the swan had not died as a result of a dog
attack. However, since we hadn't got the paperwork to prove it, the
accusations continued.

The allegations surrounding the 2006 swan death continued until
early 2010, when I contacted Defra, the Environment Agency, the
RSPCA, our local Vet (who was first response for the RSPCA for
wildlife injuries and deaths), Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and
the Office of National Statistics to find out more about the claims
being made. NONE of the agencies involved had any figures or
paperwork referring to wildlife or swan deaths at Cotgrave Country
Park or - in fact - anywhere else. All the agencies contacted said
that more deaths of wildlife occur per year due to fishing than to
anything dogs could ever do.

The nub of this entire affair has been that members of Diamond
Fishing Club, at Cotgrave Country Park, have been trying to force
dog owners off the Heron Lake (at which they hold a licence to
FISH, only - they do not own the lake) and they have made false
allegations about dogs in order to strengthen their arguments. The
2006 swan death was one such allegation, and they used it as an
argument against the rights of the dog owners until I I went public
with the results of my own enquiries in 2010. As a result of those,
I was subjected to verbal and online abuse and a lot of defamatory
things were written about me, by members and supporters of the
Diamond Fishing Club. I have also been verbally and physically
threatened when attending meetings of the Friends of Cotgrave
Country Park group (attended by an officer of the County Council),
the membership of which is mainly fishing club members and their
supporters, which seems to include the Chairman and Secretary.

I have been subjected to so much abuse, and so many threats, over
this issue, that my GP has now banned me from attending any further
FOCCP meetings for the moment. It is marvellous, therefore, to
receive this information through from you and hopefully bring a
close to this particular false accusation against the dog owners
using Cotgrave Country Park. I will also give a copy of your letter
to the elderly gentleman who was falsely accused over the incident.

I am enclosing below an anonymised witness statement, given to me
in 2010 by a dog walker who saw the swan death. Since What Do They
Know? is a public site, and given the context of abuse and threats
in which this entire affair has been conducted, I am sure you
appreciate that I have had to anonymise this witness. However,
should Nottinghamshire Police ever require a copy that has not been
anonymised, please let me know. I do realise that nothing will be
done over the swan death now, and am enclosing the information
below only so that you can update your own records. If I need to
send this information to someone other than yourself, I'd be
grateful if you could please let me know. I think it is important
that a record of this statement be held on file along with my
request, in case further reference needs to be made to it in
future.

Once again, very many thanks for all your assistance in this
matter.

Yours sincerely

Penny Bunn
======================================================
Dear Mr Skudder

I am writing as I had the opportunity the other day to meet Penny
Bunn who I understand is trying her very hardest to make sure that
Cotgrave Country Park remains an area for us all to enjoy including
dogs, wildlife and walkers. I explained to her my horror a couple
of years ago when i saw 2 fishermen struggling with a poor swan who
had obviously got caught on his hook and line. not wanting to
interfere, as I know the fisherman on several occasions during the
5 years I have been walking daily in the park, can be extremely
threatening. The following morning whilst on an early morning walk
(6am !) my friend and i found a dead swan very near to the place I
had seen the fishermen struggling the day before. The swan appeared
to have no savage injuries, was not bleeding and I obviously
realised that the events of the previous day had caused this poor
animal to die, it was the mother to several youngsters, so I found
it very upsetting.

A few weeks after that whilst out walking several fishermen tried
to tell me a dog had savaged one of the swans and that quote
'bloody dogs should be on a lead' I tried to explain to them I had
seen the incident and it was actually a fisherman who had been
responsible for that swans death. That lake is there natural
habitat, not the fisherman's and I am extremely angry by all the
awful signs and fencing that someone has allowed to be erected.

I have never seen a dog out of control and I use the park twice
daily, probably 3 hours a day. When it is hot my dog wants to go in
the water naturally and I will continue to allow my dog to do that
and as I am a responsible person (unlike the fishermen) I always
make sure she is in no way bothering any of the wildlife.

The fishermen use the dogs as a way of getting the lake all to
themselves and they are irresponsible in many ways, early in a
morning when I walk I often walk around the lake and pick up
several tin lids, extremely dangerous as they are very sharp and
would injure a swan or duck very badly. I know it is the fisherman
because they are off tins of sweetcorn which they obviously use as
bate. They do not take there rubbish home they hang it on the fence
and the abusive words they shout at dog walkers is totally
unacceptable. A few years ago my son who was then aged about 16
took my dog to the water for a swim a fisherman actually attacked
him, as soon as he got home I went down there to find him, but he
had left, very quickly as he knew he would be in trouble.

I think the fencing is appalling and so are the signs it really
spoils what should be a lovely place for all to enjoy. i should
think someone will rip them down anyway, so it is a wasted
exercise.

I hope the fishermen are all informed of the true death of that
poor swan instead of being told to stick to some ridiculous lie
about its untimely death, I know how it died and I do not tell
lies.

Penny Bunn left an annotation ()

This Request cross references to the request to Nottinghamshire Police entitled "Swan Death, Cotgrave Country Park", available at: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/sw...

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