Borth councillor suspended after breaking dog beach ban

Image caption,
Janet Owen breached a Ceredigion council order by walking her dog on Borth beach

A former magistrate has been suspended as a community councillor for six months for bringing her office into disrepute after breaching a ban on dogs using a beach.

Janet Owen, of Borth Community Council near Aberystwyth, failed to comply with the authority's code of conduct.

She was investigated by the public services ombudsman.

Mrs Owen has not decided yet whether to lodge an appeal.

Ceredigion council's standards committee suspended Mrs Owen at a meeting following a report by the ombudsman.

Mrs Owen was fined at Swansea Magistrates' Court on 10 November last year after admitting walking her dog on Borth beach.

Mrs Owen said she admitted one charge under the Public Health Act and two counts of breaching a Ceredigion council dog control order, and was fined a total of £70 and ordered to pay £500 costs.

She had been a magistrate in Ceredigion since 2003, but resigned following her court conviction.

Mrs Owen has been in dispute with the local authority over a summertime beach ban on dogs in Borth since 2004.

She said: "There are a lot of elderly and disabled people who want to walk their dogs in Borth, but they are frightened. Some walk their dogs at the crack of dawn before anyone else gets up."

Mrs Owen was also accused of failing to "show respect and consideration for others and had used bullying behaviour" at Borth Community Council.

She added: "This is ridiculous. I've worked for the Citizens' Advice Bureaux, I was a teacher for 30 years in south Wales, Yorkshire, London and Liverpool and I was never accused of anything like that."

She was also found to have breached a third part of the code of conduct by using the "resources of the authority imprudently and in breach of the authority's requirements", which related to repairs to a village playground.

In response to this, Mrs Owen said: "I thought I had permission to spend money on the repairs to the playground. It was dangerous."

Ceredigion standards committee found that Mrs Owen had failed to comply with the code of conduct in each of the three allegations.

A spokesman said: "Ceredigion's standards committee decided that Councillor Owen should be suspended from being a member of the Borth Community Council for a period of six months commencing from the day after the expiry of the time allowed to lodge a notice of appeal.

"Councillor Owen may appeal against the determination of the standards committee to an appeals tribunal drawn from the Adjudication Panel for Wales."

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