EXETER dog walkers have been banned from a field they have used for decades to exercise their pets.
Without warning, notices appeared banning dogs from the Sheep Field by the 100 Club in Countess Wear.
The field is owned by Exeter College, which said it initiated the ban following complaints about dog mess.
A Countess Wear resident, who did not wish to be named, said that since the field was closed to dog walkers she has to walk her two dogs around the streets.
She said: "Around the streets is the only place – there is nowhere now for the dogs to have a good run off the lead. We can take them down to the woodland but that is quite a distance.
"One of our dogs is only eight months old so she needs a lot of exercise.
"Dogs have always been exercised on that field. They were exercised there when my children were small 30 years ago.
"There are a lot of people who walk their dogs there – there were about eight to 10 when I was there the other day.
"I can understand that dog mess is an issue, but we always pick up after ours and it is such a shame it has been ruined by a few who don't.
"Our dogs are only allowed to run along by the hedges on the edge so they are not in the middle on the playing fields.
"It would be good if they set aside an area for the dogs."
Steve Strang, head of estates at Exeter College, said: "The playing fields at Wear Barton are owned and operated by the Exeter College.
"The fields are currently used by the college and its students, as well as the local football club and the college has also permitted recreational use of the fields by the public when the fields are not in use by students.
"We have had increasing complaints of dog fouling and, with the need to safeguard students, we have therefore made the decision to close the entrances to the south of the fields, and to prohibit dogs.
"The public are still able to access the fields, although dogs will no longer be permitted."
Jill Owen, county councillor for Priory which includes Countess Wear, said: "There are sports played on the fields so I can understand why the college is concerned about dogs and mess.
"However, to have done this without consulting anyone seems to be wrong and I think there needs to be a bit of dialogue on this."