Hucknall: Several dogs left ill after eating poisonous plant cuttings left on park

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Residents of a Hucknall housing estate have blasted the management company that runs and maintains a nearby park after several dogs became ill.

A number of dog owners on Merlin Park say their dogs have been poisoned by ragwort cuttings left all over the park after grass cutting.

Ragwort is a weed that has always grown on Merlin Park but is toxic to dogs.

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The park is maintained by The Land Trust and cutting was carried out on the park a few weeks ago by contractors John O’Conner.

Signs have now been put up at Merlin Park warning dog owners about the ragwort cuttings. Photo: SubmittedSigns have now been put up at Merlin Park warning dog owners about the ragwort cuttings. Photo: Submitted
Signs have now been put up at Merlin Park warning dog owners about the ragwort cuttings. Photo: Submitted

However, one Merlin Park resident contacted your Dispatch to say claim that workers did not pick the cuttings up, leaving ragwort all over the park.

This was then eaten or chewed by dogs, which have become ill as a result and needed expensive vet treatment.

Furious residents say this is just the latest example of bad service they say they are receiving from The Land Trust.

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One said: “There are approximately 700 houses, each paying £350 each a year for Land Trust to maintain the park.

"Land Trust keep hiking fees yet management and workmanship is poor.

“It’s now five weeks since the grass cutting and they still haven't picked the up ragwort cuttings.

"They are refusing to meet face to face with residents to talk about it – they just want a Teams meeting online to hide behind a screen.

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“Yet they are still take £350 a year from each of the 700 properties.

Melanie Mills, secretary for the Residents Steering Group at Merlin Park, added: “About a dozen residents of the development form a Residents Steering Committee to work with the Land Trust to manage Merlin Park.

"The majority of residents are frustrated by the Land Trusts management of the park and large annual fees, currently over 700 households are paying £348 a year.

"Earlier this year several petitions with over 400 resident signatures were presented to the Land Trust and Ashfield Council seeking the removal of the Land Trust and for Merlin Park to be adopted by the council.

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"The council declined to adopt the park but it did result in the starts of dialogue with the Land Trust and the formation of the Residents Steering Committee.

"MP Mark Spencer and his team assisted with these endeavours.

“In July, several members of the steering committee met with the estate manager from the Land Trust and a representative of the contractor, John O’Conner, that was appointed in April to maintain the park on the Land Trust’s behalf.

"The issue of Ragwort and it’s risks were discussed extensively at this meeting and both the Land Trust and John O’Conner acknowledged and fully understood the risk of not properly removing and disposing of the Ragwort.

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"The ideal solution is to hand pick the Ragwort and then mow and remove the meadow grass so it can be used as animal feed.

"John O’Conner advised they were contracting a third party to deal with the Ragwort and that they were going to mow the meadow and dispose of the cuttings in landfill so there was no issue with potentially poisoning animals.

"In early October, John O’Conner, started to mow the meadow but failed to remove the cuttings immediately after.

"Since then several dog owners have stated that their pets have become seriously ill with several already incurring bills in excess of several thousand pounds.

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"The change in weather has meant that John O’Conner has still not removed all of the Ragwort cuttings and therefore there is still a risk.

"Numerous calls and emails from the steering committee eventually resulted in some substandard signs been placed on some of the park entrances to warn users but a case of too little to late.

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A Land Trust spokesperson said: “Land Trust Residential Services would like to assure residents of Merlin Park it takes their concerns about site safety extremely seriously.

"While we are aware there are concerns about ragwort on Merlin Park, particularly in regard to the safety and wellbeing of residents’ pets, we would like to reassure residents that we are continuing to work with our contractor to ensure the removal of the remaining meadow and grass arisings from the site as soon as possible, despite last month being one of the wettest Octobers for some time.

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Ragwort is a common wildflower and poses no danger to dogs unless it is ingested.

"Our advice remains to keep dogs on leads as much as possible and supervise them at all times, in line with the signs displayed on site.

“The residents at Merlin Park pay Land Trust a capped service fee which is charged in accordance with the legal agreements they signed when purchasing their properties on the estate.

"The fee covers the maintenance of the open green spaces, play area and SuDS system, as well as routine bin-emptying, health and safety checks and weekly site inspections from our estates team.

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“Land Trust value all residents’ feedback and works collaboratively with homeowners at Merlin Park through a resident working/steering group, allowing residents to understand the management process and how Merlin Park is maintained.

“Alongside this, we have been working with the local MP Mark Spencer, to deal with residents’ concerns about the park and reassure them that we are working with the contractor to make sure that the site specifications are met to the standards set in the management plan.

“Where concerns have arisen, we have endeavoured to address all of them as soon as possible, instructing contractors to undertake any work necessary.”

Your Dispatch has approached John O’Conner for comment.