This sensible High Court judge’s ruling will protect dog owners across the country from being criminalised by local authorities if their dogs pee against trees, lamp posts or on hallowed council turf.
Under the auspices of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), Richmond council proposed that dog owners would be found guilty of an offence if their pet caused annoyance or damage to council structures, or equipment including cocking a leg.
Since the introduction of PSPOs in 2013, councils have introduced bans on dog walking in hundreds of parks and open spaces, in some cases no doubt quite justified. However, this is the first PSPC to be successfully challenged in a court of law, which protects sensible dog owners with well-behaved dogs.
Just about every field at Ote Hall Farm has a footpath running through it. These originally connected communities with the church, the village school, and their places of work.
Today hundreds of ramblers walk across the farm on a daily basis, doing so purely to exercise their dogs and themselves.
Mr Gove proposes that future support for farmers must be for the benefit the public, through additional public access, amongst other things, at the same time as encouraging wildlife.
He should be aware that the public already have access through hundreds of miles of footpaths crossing almost every farm. Most respect this ‘privilege’, but some leave gates open, permit their dogs to run wild in protected areas disturbing the wildlife, and as has been highlighted, allow their dogs to savage our livestock.
When walkers are politely asked not to stray off the official footpaths, and keep away from areas where we are trying to encourage ground nesting birds and other wildlife, the verbal abuse we get for our troubles is certainly unprintable in this nice newspaper.
One of my heroes is Lord Harris of Peckham, a carpet sales man who left school at 15, and became a very successful and shrewd businessman founding Harris Carpets which acquired Queensway in 1977.
Throughout his business career he has been a remarkable philanthropist, who has done more to help the working-class children than politicians, and to quote Michael Gove, ‘since Attlee and Bevan’.
He was one of the first to set up a city technology college in the 1990s, when he took over failing comprehensives run by left-wing local authorities, and changed everything about these schools – except the intake.
He introduced uniforms, house systems, academic subjects, strict discipline and zero tolerance of truancy. The results were staggering and the schools heavily oversubscribed.
Three years ago he sold all his shares in Carpetright, since when the chain’s worth has dropped from £200 million to £25 million, and is struggling under the current management.
Lord Harris and his son Martin have moved on to new ventures deciding that now is the time to start new businesses, and their enterprise Tapi which surprise surprise sells carpets, opened in 2015. It is described by Carpetright’s advisers Deloitte, as ‘a new national competitor entering the market with a widespread and aggressive store opening programme’.
The Harris family expect Tapi to make its first profit next year, and plan the chain will have at least 110 stores by the end of this year.
As Philip Harris sees high street names like Toys R Us and Maplin go bust, New Look and Select in trouble, and with House of Fraser and Poundworld next in line, he obviously recognises an opportunity to offer something fresh and new to the high street.
We should look out for a Tapi coming soon, and be grateful that several generations of school children have benefited from an education pioneered and funded by the extraordinary Lord Harris.