DOG walkers are being stopped from using land owned by Bicester Heritage due to ‘health and safety reasons’.

For 20 years Marion Jeskowiak has been walking her dogs across land used by the Bicester Gliding Club bordering Skimmingdish Lane.

For a reduced rate, about £30, the gliding club had allowed pet owners to become social members and use the site as much as they liked.

But last month people exercising their pets were told they could not use the ground for ‘health and safety reasons’ by Bicester Heritage, which took over the site last April.

Mrs Jeskowiak, who has two terriers called Tarka and Finch, said: “I have been walking my dogs here for 20 years and there has never been a problem before. Most people stick to the edge of the field.

“I do understand about the health and safety aspects, but what about in the mornings from 6am-8.30am? Or in the evenings when the gliders have finished for the day?

“No one is even using the site – why couldn’t we have come to a compromise? Lots of us dog walkers have been left feeling very upset, we do not think it is fair.”

The 53-year-old Kings Meadow Estate resident said: “I just want to make it clear this is not the gliding club’s fault. They have never had a problem with us walking there.”

Dan Geoghegan, managing director of Bicester Heritage, said they bought the site from the Ministry of Defence, which had rented it to the gliding club, in April 2013.

But as Bicester Heritage is a private company, it has been unable to get the correct liability insurance to clearly allow for dog walkers to use the site.

He said: “Having live animals running around with live aircraft is not really compatible. Regretfully we have not been able to find a find a middle way and it has been a difficult decision to have to make.

“The only thing worse than having to ban dog walkers, would be one of them having an accident.”

But Bicester Town Councillor Les Sibley said people should be able to walk their pets on the site after the gliders stop at 6pm.

Mr Sibley said: “I don’t think it is fair the residents have to stop, especially as they have been using the site for a number of years.”

  • If anyone has any land suitable to walk dogs on, contact Mr Sibley on 01869 243367.
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