Grieving widow slapped with £100 fine for taking dog to mourn at husbands grave

A grieving widow was slapped with a £100 fine for visiting her husband's grave with her dog.

Lynda Martin became the first person to be hit with a penalty notice for breaching the rule at the cemetery in Herne Bay on February 25.

The 67-year-old has frequently visited the grave of her husband Niall Willis, 81, with her border collie since he was buried last year.

But she was confronted by an enforcement officer when she attended last month and claims she was made to "feel like a criminal", and is now urging the local council to scrap the dog ban at the cemetery.

She said: "I was accosted by a man with a camera who asked for my details, and I was given a £100 fixed penalty notice for having a dog in an exclusion area.

"I felt victimised and was made to feel like a criminal. Megan was on the lead and under control.

"I could have understood if Megan was rampaging all over the graves, but I think you should be able to take a dog in on its lead."

The retiree said she was unaware of the ban which has been in place since 2017 and she paid the fine straight away.

However, she wants the ban to be scrapped as her beloved pooch has been her emotional crutch for the last year.

She added: "Megan is my constant companion and my emotional support, I don’t know what I would have done over the last year without her.

"I think the enforcement officers are better off catching real criminals – fly-tippers and hooligans – rather than preying on someone vulnerable."

However, a spokesman for Canterbury City Council explained that the authority put the fine in place after receiving a number of complaints about dog walkers.

They said: "Historically we had a number of complaints about dog walkers using the cemetery and about dog fouling, which is upsetting to other people who go there to visit the graves of loved ones.

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"The parish council has also asked us to take action on dog fouling following an increase in the problem recently. Signs are on show at the cemetery to explain the restrictions that are in place.

"In this particular case, Mrs Martin admitted she breached the PSPO. We have reviewed the bodycam footage and are satisfied that the officer dealt with the incident in a courteous and professional manner and that the fixed penalty notice was correctly issued.

"While we sympathise with the reasons Mrs Martin gave for having her dog with her, we have to enforce the restrictions in a consistent way and cannot make exceptions.

"That said, when we look to review the PSPO in the future we will carry out further public consultation, and if wider public opinion has changed then we will take this into account."

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