Sefton Council Penalises Pensioners – and Makes the Rules up as They Go Along!

11th January 2019
An 80-year-old grandmother was left in ‘floods of tears’ after she was fined £50 by Sefton Council because her dog lead was ‘too long’ for the area where she was walking her pet. Worse still, she says she was threatened that if she didn’t pay up pronto she might face a £2,500 fine and a criminal record.
Maureen Sanders, 80, was walking her rescue dog Soren around Bootle Cemetery last Friday morning when two NSL ‘enforcment officers’ stopped her. The Council agents told Maureen that her dog lead was ‘too long’: it needed to be less than two metres if she wanted to walk her dog in that area. Instead of maybe issuing her with a warning or explaining the rules, the officers slapped Maureen with an immediate £50 fine for breaking the by-law.

The signs outside the cemetery state that dogs should be kept on a ‘short lead’ but do not specify any maximum length for the lead. It appears that the Council’s enforcers are making it up as they go along. Signs do state that the cemetary area should not be used for dog walking at all, however, this area has been used regularly over decades by many animal owners.

Maureen rescued her beloved dog Soren from Romania three years ago, where he was being used for dog fights. She said: “I’ve had him about three years. He’s a friendly dog but he can get quite frightened because he had a bad time in Romania.” While the rescue dog is friendly and well-behaved, Maureen said he can get quite frightened of other dogs, which is why she has to keep him on a lead at all times.

“I had no idea it was a rule.” said Maureen. ” My daughters rang the One Stop Shop when I had to pay the fine and the staff in there said they had never heard of it.

‘”What upset me was if you don’t have it paid up in a fortnight they said you would be fined £2,500 and I would have a criminal record.”

“I cried all night because I was so, so upset.”

Maureen’s daughters have offered to help her pay the £50 fine so the money doesn’t come out of her pension – but battling Maureen says that she is refusing to pay the fine on principle.

She says: “I don’t have a computer or anything – I wouldn’t know the by-laws or anything. I’ve always been very respectful in the cemetery. I always have the dog on a lead and a lot of people don’t do that!”

Maureen’s daughter Maggie said her mother is a responsible dog owner who ‘always carries poo bags “and cleans up after her dog without fail. She found her mother in “floods of tears” after being handed the fine on her morning dog walk. She explains that Maureen is waiting for a hip replacement and needs to use a longer lead to walk Soren because she has difficulty walking.
“Mum does not have that sort of money to pay for walking her dog under control on a lead as she has done every day for years.”

‘My sister and I offered to pay but mum is adamant that as she was not doing anything wrong by walking her dog on a lead in the rear part of the cemetery away from the graves, early in the morning in the only green space close to her flat. She is not going to pay.”  Maggie said her mum was told that there are signs outside the cemetery warning of the by-laws but that she couldn’t see them due to her poor eyesight.

UPDATE: NSL, is the firm who are hired to enforce by law fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for Sefton Council.  Although neither Sefton Council nor NSL responded when contacted by media about the pensioner’s plight, we understand that Maureen’s fine threat has now been withdrawn by the Council.

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