Caerphilly Council fines elderly couple on litter pick as dog strays into Virginia Park

David and Janice Chapman with their dog Molly at Virginia Park rugby pitches. Credit: Media Wales

An elderly couple who have regularly picked up litter at a park for more than a decade were fined after their dog strayed onto a rugby pitch.

Janice Chapman, 79, and her husband David Chapman, 81, were approached by Caerphilly Council officers on 6 June and forced to pay £75 after their dog Molly ran onto the pitches at Caerphilly's Virginia Park. Janice and David's house backs onto Virginia Park and for the last 15 years they have helped to maintain the field by voluntarily collecting rubbish. 

Janice said she was carrying "six or seven" plastic bottles when they were met by the council workers.

She said she had momentarily walked onto the pitch to pick up another plastic bottle when her chihuahua-pug cross Molly followed her. At the time Janice said the field was quiet and not being used for any sport.Janice said: "Our garden backs on to Virginia Park so we take the dog out for a walk a few times a day and pick up rubbish which we have done for about 10 to 15 years. 

"We were walking out one day at about 11am along the edge of the pitch and then these two women came towards us when I had an armful of about six or seven plastic bottles. We didn't think anything of it but as I was going along picking up rubbish one of them said: 'Your dog is on the pitch.'"This has never happened before and we have never seen those council workers before. We explained to them that we were doing the council's work by litter-picking. It was a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. We have seen others walking their dogs on the pitch."

David and Janice Chapman a litter pick with their dog Molly Credit: Media Wales

David said when the couple tried to explain what they were doing, the council workers "didn't want to know".

He said there was no warning issued to the couple and they were fined £75 straightaway.David said: "I pointed out that it's the end of the sports season and there were no people playing sports on the pitch. We were told that makes no difference and that the dog shouldn't be on the pitch. 

Molly the chihuahua-pug cross Credit: Media Wales

Following the fine, David and Janice emailed the council as soon as they got home to try to explain the situation further. In response, David said they just received a copy of the rules and therefore had to pay. Janice said: "The support has been brilliant, it does make us feel good, but we're not going to litter-pick now. I will pick up rubbish behind our back gate to make sure it's nice and clean but as far as the rest of the field goes we won't do that." 

Virginia Park, beside Caerphilly RFC's stadium of the same name, hosts rugby, football and cricket on its multiple pitches.

In a statement a spokesperson for Caerphilly Council said:"We are currently investigating this incident and will issue a full statement in due course.“

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