Leicester dog owner wins seven-month battle against council as £80 fine scrapped
A dog walker has won a seven-month battle against the city council after being wrongly fined for walking his pet on a public footpath.
Kev Edmondston was walking spaniel Tilly along the path cutting through Gilroes Cemetery when he was stopped by two wardens.
Despite his pleas, they insisted Mr Edmondston was walking in a dog exclusion zone, and gave him an £80 fixed penalty notice.
Now, after seven months of fighting the fine – and a court appearance – Leicester City Council bosses have admitted they were wrong and have cancelled the penalty.
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Mr Edmondston, 54, who lives off Groby Road, Leicester, said: "I'm absolutely elated with the outcome and feel totally vindicated. I knew it was wrong all along.
"It really was quite a stressful thing to have gone through.
"I feel very angry. I feel angry that the council were so unwilling to listen – when I spoke to them, it was a case of go to court or pay the fine, nothing else."
Mr Edmondston was walking from Gorse Hill City Farm, in Anstey Lane, along a fenced-off public footpath which runs through the cemetery to Anstey.
The cemetery is a dog exclusion zone, but the footpath is not.
After being given the fine in March, he presented the council with photographs showing dog exclusion signs on gates to the cemetery, but none on the footpath.
He said he also sent the council documents which showed a public footpath can not be turned into a dog exclusion zone.
"I was told the chief warden had looked at my case, but that I was wrong," he said.
"I was then told the head of street scene enforcement had also looked at it, but I was still wrong."
Mr Edmondston was summoned to Leicester Magistrates' Court on October 5. He pleaded not guilty.
"It wasn't a nice experience," he said. "I have never been in trouble before."
The hearing was then adjourned for four weeks.
On Friday, moments before Mr Edmondston and his wife Sandra were due to go into court for a second hearing, the council's solicitor revealed Mr Edmondston had been right all long.
"She was so apologetic and said she had had a phone call from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), who said the council was wrong, I was right, and that lots of councils all over the place have been giving out these fines wrongly.
"I'm so relieved it is all over."
A Leicester City Council spokesman apologised for the authority's handling of the case and the inconvenience caused to Mr Edmondston.
He said: "This case revolves around a legal issue of whether or not a public right of way overrides the requirements of a dog exclusion order.
"Therefore, at the initial hearing in October, our solicitor called for an adjournment to seek further advice from Defra and, on the basis of that, the prosecution action was discontinued."
The spokesman said another fine would now be reimbursed as a result of the case.