A couple were hit with a £100 fine for walking their dogs in a park – after the signs warning them not to do so were stolen.
Firefighter and nurse Neil and Andrea Batcheler, both 46, were visiting Reculver Country Park with their three children when they were handed the punishment while sitting with lurcher Rufus and spaniel Millie, who still had their leads on.
The Ramsgate family visited the public space on Monday and saw no notices telling them they were in an area where pooches aren’t allowed.
Describing the penalty notice as a “tough one to swallow” at the time, Mr Batcheler said: “How can you go around fining people for being in a dog exclusion zone when there’s no way for us to reasonably know that?”
Dogs are allowed at Reculver Country Park, but they must remain on leads in the picnic area and are banned from the play park.
The Batchelers say they were in between the picnic area and play park when they were handed the fine for being in a canine exclusion zone.
Mr Batcheler said: “We were just sat by the picnic area minding our own business with our two dogs still on the lead.
“The dog warden comes over and starts talking about how the area is a dog exclusion zone.
“Well, we couldn’t see any signs saying ‘no dogs allowed’ or anything like that, so we pointed that out but no luck.
“We were asking the warden where the signs are and even she said she didn’t know.
“It’s ridiculous. You can even Google Reculver Country Park and you start seeing reviews about how nice it is to walk your dogs there and things like that.”
The family only visit Reculver three or four times a year for a day out – but the incident tainted their trip.
Mr Batcheler went on: “It was only at the end of it all she announced the fine – she took all of our details first.
“When you think I could have got up and walked away but tried to do the right thing, just to get slapped with a fine for no apparent reason – it’s frustrating.”
A spokesperson for CCC reiterated dogs are banned in certain areas of the park - but acknowledged issuing the fine was “not fair”, with the authority apologising to the family.
The council will also cancel two similar penalty notices issued to others.
The spokesman said: “Our Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for control of dogs states that at Reculver, dogs must be on the lead at the picnic area and at the Reculver Towers heritage area, and that they are not allowed at all at the play area.
"These rules are set out on our website and we also placed signs at locations across Reculver including the play area, picnic area and wider country park.
"However, an officer visited the area on Wednesday, June 7, and all the signs have been stolen. This, of course, is a criminal act. We condemn theft and vandalism, and if people are caught doing this in future we will push the police to prosecute.
"Without the signs being in place, it would not be fair to issue fines, so as a result we will on this occasion be cancelling the three fixed penalty notices issued at Reculver for breaches of the PSPO.
"We will be in contact with the individuals concerned directly and apologise that this unfortunate incident has occurred."