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Dog walkers hold meeting following cattle grid tragedy at Castle Meadows

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

DOG walkers have met to discuss concerns around a cattle grid in which a pet died after getting trapped. 

The meeting was organised by Jo Waters whose schnoodle – a schnauzer and poodle cross – Eva died after she became trapped in the cattle grid at Castle Meadows in Abergavenny, just days after it was installed in April. 

As a result Monmouthshire County Council withdraw its plans to improve walking and cycling routes through the area besides the river Usk, which included the installation of more cattle grids before they were due to be considered by its planning committee in May. 

It has also closed off the cattle grid and said it will consider alternatives, and look at other gates used by councils elsewhere, in response. 

Jo Waters with dogs Jimmy and Eva

Ms Waters, who lives in Llanfoist, said she wanted to discuss the council’s plans for Castle Meadows with other dog owners. 

“It was a small group to discuss what our thoughts are and how people feel. There seems to be a growing interest from the public and a lot of people are upset about what happened, and an awful lot of local people feel they are not being listened to.” 

Ms Waters said as well as an online petition started since her dog died calling for the cattle grid to be removed – which has so far attracted more than 1,200 signatures – she has become aware the Friends of Castle Meadows had collected signatures in opposition before any grids were installed. 

That petition was signed by more than 100 people and Anthea Fairey, who chairs the volunteer group which works with the council to care for the area, said it was submitted before the 2020 pandemic and though it was acknowledged, she said the group hadn’t had a respon,se from the council. 

She said the group maintains its opposition to cattle grids in the meadow: “We never felt it appropriate as we have people with pushchairs, prams and mobility scooters and we feel a cattle grid would not be appropriate as the spaces (between the grids) would be too big for people to go over them. 

“We had a system of kissing gates that worked really well and we do not see why that needs to change.” 

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Ms Fairey said the group is also concerned at proposals to widen paths in the area, to up to three metres, due to the loss of the habitat area and belives the council should hold further talks before pressing ahead with the plans. 

“I think they should sit down and come to some sort of agreement as to what would be acceptable to the people involved in it.” 

Environment body Natural Resources Wales has also written to Monmouthshire council raising concerns at how plans to address habitat loss, and disruption to wildlife from the paths will be managed with the area and the banks of the Usk home to important species such as otters. 

It also wants details on what material will be used in the construction of the paths and how kerbs and drainage would impact the Usk. 

Public comments made as part of the planning application have said maintaining gates, rather than installing cattle grids, would also help encourage cyclists to slow down in the area that is popular with walkers, dog walkers and children. 

The council’s plans have been supported by Abergavenny Cycle Group and the Abergavenny and District Civic Society.