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Greyhound trainer hits back at kennel critics

THE OWNER of a racing Greyhound kennels has hit back at critics who claim his business should be closed.

Ron PatersonRon Paterson failed to gain retrospective planning permission for his greyhound accommodation and training kennels at Eaglescliffe in Stockton, Co. Durham. Stockton Council’s planning committee said the agricultural land had not been designated for that use and the kennels were built without permission. Concerns by local people had included access issues, security and the welfare of the animals.

Mr Paterson plans to appeal to the planning inspector and contact the Local Government Ombudsman. He claims he did not realise he needed planning permission as the building was in place when he bought the land.

He invited journalists from a local newspaper to visit the kennels to see the 41 dogs were being cared for correctly. Claims had been made there was no electricity on site, but Mr Paterson showed a generator in use as well as facilities including a dog whirlpool bath, swimming pool and an exercise carousel.

‘I used to do this for a hobby, but I wanted to go professional,’ he said. ‘I put in for planning permission at Elton and it was refused, but the planners recommended I go and find a disused barn in an isolated area, which I did. I didn’t think I needed planning permission, because the building was already here. You can’t see or smell it so I can’t understand why it was refused. It’s all been blown out of proportion. Many things were said about me in people’s objections. Mr Paterson said that if the planning permission was ultimately refused, he would have to close down the kennels and all the dogs would have to be rehomed.

Greyhound welfare campaigners have criticised racing officials for allowing Mr Paterson to operate in breach of their own rules, as he did not have planning permission.

The National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC), the licensing authority for greyhound racing, also says all licensed kennels must have ‘overnight supervision’, which some objectors claim was not previously the case at Mr Paterson’s premises.

Tony Peters, UK co-ordinator of campaign group Greyhound Action, said: ‘This latest case in the North-east, is, very sadly, a reflection of what has been happening in many other parts of the country, where the NGRC is allowing greyhound trainers to operate without required planning permission or overnight supervision.’

Alistair McLean, the NGRC’s Chief Executive, said: ‘The situation is that Mr Paterson has indicated he is going to appeal against the decision. He has the right to do so and we have to wait until the outcome of that before we take action, if necessary. We have no interest in licensing illegal kennels, but we have to follow the process and give everybody a fair chance.’