Newham Council paws for thought...and scrap North Woolwich pensioner’s ‘no lead’ dog fine

The new year is off an excellent start for a pensioner who was threatened with punishment after she was fined for walking her beloved dog without a lead.

Sheila Gilbert, 72, was issued with a �50 fixed penalty notice (FPN) after she was spotted with nine-year-old Jack Russell Meg by a Newham Council enforcement officer in Pier Parade, North Woolwich.

But after she wrote to the council, enlisted the support of friends and Age UK Newham and raised her plight with the Newham Recorder, officers had a change of heart after “a review of the circumstances” in which the fine was issued.

Ms Gilbert always insisted she had no idea she had breached Newham Council dog control orders, which state pets are required to be on a lead on all public highways.

She described her relief after discovering a letter from the council’s community safety director Nick Bracken - five weeks after the FPN was issued.

“I thought it was great, after all the struggle and the letters and going to all these different places to try and get it overturned,” she said.

“I always admitted it and said ‘yes, I did not have my dog on a lead’.

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“But I did not know that it was not allowed. A warning or a caution would have been fine.

“Nick Bracken said officers can use their own discretion but she had the FPN in my hand before I even knew who she was.”

Deborah Hayes, director of services at Age UK Newham said they have now pinned up posters at their offices to make users aware.

A Newham Council spokesman said: “We take all enforcement very seriously and tackling crime and anti-social behaviour is one of the council’s top priorities.

“However, sometimes it is appropriate to exercise discretion. We recognise the importance of being fair, open and proportionate.”