Health officials get tough as users of Axminster’s new cycle and footpath face pet poo peril

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A “Rottweiler” dog warden is being drafted in to help clean up Axminster’s new cycle path.

Officials have ordered a get tough operation after complaints that riders and walkers are having to negotiate piles of pet poo along the route, which runs from Cloakham to Weycroft.

The £390,000 off-road track, the latest section of the Stop Line Way, has been given an enthusiastic welcome by local residents since it opened recently.

But last week town councillors heard that irresponsible pet owners were spoiling it for the many users.

Millwey ward councillor Ian Hall said dog fouling along the path had been “awful”. He said they needed a poo bin and signs reminding pet owners they needed to clear up after their animals.

Town Clerk Hilary Kirkcaldie said some of the deficiencies had been taken up with Devon County Council who might be able to find the funds to implement improvements.

Mayor Andrew Moulding said dog fouling had got so bad environmental health officers had been called to the scene and agreed there needed to be “active enforcement”.

“People you may not recognise will be there watching carefully,” he told pet owners. “The dog warden is a Rottweiler, I was told, so be warned”.

Cllr Moulding said they were also considering a scheme which has proved successful elsewhere - stencilling signs on the path to advice dog owners not to allow pets to foul there.

“Do the dogs read them?” joked Cllr Scott.

Cllr Hall said he was also concerned about road safety since the cycle path opened. He said people liked to walk a loop so often came back along the road.

“We need to reduce the speed limit from 60mph to 30mph which currently ends at Rendell site all the way to Weycroft Bridge,” he said.

Cllr Hall also called for signs banning motorcycles from using the Stop Line Way to be put up.

Town councillors agreed they should see if they can get funding from the county council to overcome some of the issues with the cycle way after hearing that dog bins alone cost around £100 and there was the price of maintaining them.

* The Stop Line Way is part of the National Cycle Network, Route 33, and when complete the 70 mile trail will link the Bristol Channel to Lyme Bay, passing through Devon, Somerset, and Dorset.

In Devon, the route stretches from Seaton Promenade to the county boundary and is a largely traffic-free footway and cycleway. The proposed route closely follows, and is named after, the Second World War defences built following the evacuation of the Allies from Dunkirk as the coast of Devon and Cornwall was considered too long to defend.

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