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Danger lurks off-leash at park

George Chapman, with dogs Dino and Mini, fears Arkinstall Park is no longer a friendly place to walk to dog.
George Chapman, with dogs Dino and Mini, fears Arkinstall Park is no longer a friendly place to walk to dog. John Gass

ON A recent walk around Arkinstall Park with his dogs Dino and Mini, Tweed Heads South resident George Chapman ran into a man practising his golf swing.

When Mr Chapman told the golfer the park was not actually a driving range and playing golf was not allowed, the man responded with a threat.

He said the golfer claimed he could kill his dog with one drive.

Mr Chapman said he has also encountered motorcyclists who used the park to practice and staged impromptu races.

"If I come close to them, I get abused and they use some really foul language," Mr Chapman added.

The police had been informed but officers told residents the issue was the responsibility of Tweed Shire Council.

When residents called the council to complain and asked for appropriate action, the council informed them it was a police matter.

Mr Chapman said he and other residents had complained to police about fights, fires and cars driving in the park at speed but failed to get any help from authorities.

"I've been coming here for the last five years and it's been happening for all this time but nothing has been done," Mr Chapman said.

Detective Acting Inspector Saul Wiseman said Arkinstall Park had not presented police with any major problems.

However, anti-social behaviour was a police matter and people needed to report any and all incidents.

Insp Wiseman said the matter was now on the police's radar and he would increase patrols to deter criminal behaviour.

The council recently announced plans to remove the off-leash status of parts of the park, a decision which would affect many, especially older, dog walkers.

South Tweed Heads resident Sue Watts, who lives opposite the park, said she came to the area twice a day and would be seriously inconvenienced if the council removed the off-leash status.

"There are no real alternatives in the vicinity.

"If they take the dog park away, where do I go," Ms Watts said.

Senior resident and dog owner Evie Geyer said the planned chances especially affected older residents who depended on their companion animals the most.

Authorised off-leash dog walking areas in the Tweed were disappearing and this situation left older dog owners and their pets with no place to go.

Mrs Geyer said she and her husband Frank used to go to Fingal Head beach to walk their dogs but the off-leash area of the beach had been moved.

Dogs were now only allowed off the leash 1km further south from the location of the original dog walking area and the couple had difficulties finding access to the beach at the new spot.

Banora Point resident Bev Staughton has started a petition to be presented to the council which asks for the council to maintain the present off-leash status of the park, to improve the walking tracks in and around the park and to improve the signage.

Mr Chapman said, "I can't believe why we can't have a walking track for dogs around the park."

"There's plenty of room for everyone."

Anyone interested in signing the petition can do so by emailing Mrs Staughton on bevjoanbrock@gmail.com.au.

A council spokeswoman said the council was unaware of any problems at Arkinstall Park, but asked residents with concerns to contact them.

Sue Watts and George Chaoman below a sign which clearly bans golf.
Sue Watts and George Chaoman below a sign which clearly bans golf. John Gass

Topics:  tweed heads south



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