‘I was fined for taking my dog to my husband’s grave, I feel like a criminal’

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A grieving widow says she was “made to feel like a criminal” after being fined £100 for bringing her dog to her husband’s graveside.

Lynda Martin, from Herne, Kent, was attending the grave of late husband Niall Willis, 81, with her Border Collie Megan when she was accosted.

The 68-year-old became the first person to be handed the cruel fixed penalty notice for breaching the rule at Herne Bay Cemetery, Kent, on February 25.

This is despite Mrs Martin visiting her late husband’s grave with Megan countless times since he was buried last April.

She told Kent Online: “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.”

Mrs Martin told how she does not know what she would have done without Megan over the last year who is her “constant companion and my emotional support“.

Mrs Martin also slammed the enforcement officers responsible for the fine – claiming they are “better off catching real criminals rather than preying on someone vulnerable”.

The widow admits she was aware dogs are not allowed in the cemetery, and paid the fine but is now calling for the ban to be scrapped.

She even has support from Herne Bay councillor Joe Howes who says the Public Spaces Protection Order needs to be reviewed.

The Conservative said: “It is awful this has happened to a woman of her age, or to anyone who is grieving, which is why it’s important there is a review to look at why this has happened,”

A spokesman for Canterbury City Council told The Sun Online: “The Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that covers this area was consulted on extensively before its introduction in 2017 and again when it was renewed in 2020.

“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. 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.”

Mrs Martin was hit by rules which ban dogs in the cemetery - but she says this is unfair
Mrs Martin was hit by rules which ban dogs in the cemetery – but she says this is unfairCredit: SWNS

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