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Dog owner calls on council to rule out cattle grids

Jo Waters with dogs Jimmy and Eva

A DOG owner wants a council to rule out placing cattle grids at a beauty spot after one claimed the life of her beloved pet. 

Plans to upgrade existing paths and create new routes across the Castle Meadows area in Abergavenny were approved at Monmouthshire County Council’s February Planning Committee, but councillors were told they weren’t required to make a decision on cattle grids. 

Instead the committee was told access points would be created under permitted development rights – works that can be carried out without seeking planning permission – and that talks are continuing between the council, which made the application, and Transport for Wales, which has responsibility for active travel walking and cycling routes. 

That is despite the planning department’s report, that was due to be considered in May last year, specifically mentioning cattle grids and giving details of where they would be sited and their construction. 

However the application was pulled after seven-year-old dog, Eva, died after getting trapped in a trial grid, that had only recently been installed at the Meadows. 

Eva’s owner Jo Waters, who lives near the Meadows, attended this month’s planning committee meeting when the application was brought back following the eight month delay. 

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But she said she was disappointed to learn councillors weren’t being asked to consider the cattle grids. 

“It was quite upsetting,” said Ms Waters about the meeting: “They used a loop hole.” 

Dog Eva who died after sustaining injuries from a cattle grid (pic: Jo Waters)

Ms Waters said she and others who have objected to cattle grids, and instead want to see gates installed as access points, have been unfairly portrayed as ‘NIMBYS’, but said she and others aren’t opposed to the new and improved paths only the grids. 

Requiring cyclists to use gates to enter Meadows, as part of a route between Llanfoist and Abergavenny, would also ensure they reduce their speed when entering the popular area, a point made at the planning meeting. 

The council has received 223 public comments on the application, since December 2022, with 122 against in some way and 93 in support. 

Though the application has now been approved Ms Waters said she still wants to appeal to the council to rule out cattle grids which some cyclists support as they are intended to allow them to continue journeys without having to dismount. 

“They’ve tried to say active travel makes it an obligation to have cattle grids, but Castle Meadows needs a bespoke solution and cattle grids are not needed,” said Ms Waters. 

“People with push chairs and mobility scooters don’t want to go over a cattle grid, they are not a practical solution.” 

The council is also set to consult on new restrictions on dogs across Monmouthshire which would see the animals banned from some areas, such as sports pitches and playgrounds, and restricted to being on leads in some others including parks. 

Ms Waters said Castle Meadows would be one of the few unrestricted areas remaining for dogs, and fears, after her pet’s death, cattle grids could curtail that freedom. 

“Castle Meadows will be one of the only places you can exercise your dog off lead and dogs do need to run and socialise. This is not dog walkers against cyclists, it is a matter of keeping Castle Meadows safe and pleasant for everybody.” 

Despite losing schnauzer and poodle cross Eva at the Meadows when she had momentarily turned her back on the dog, Ms Waters said she still visits the area with Eva’s brother Jimmy and now their mother Dora, a schnauzer. 

“The lady who bred them, as pets, was obviously very upset and upset that Jimmy was pinning for his sister, and she very, very kindly allowed his mum to come and live with me. 

“I do still walk the dogs at Castle Meadows. It was hard at first but people have been so lovely, and when they realise who I am, I’ve had complete strangers in tears and giving me hugs. It’s a comforting place to go and I’ve had so many people come up to me and talk to me.”

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