BOSSES at Bracknell Forest Council are reviewing a ‘harsh’ price-hike of more than £400 handed out to dog-boarders across the borough.

This comes as a petition to scrap the new “barking mad” fees closes in on its 1,000 signature target.

READ MORE: Dog-boarders say new fee is 'barking mad'

As the News revealed in June, dog-boarders received letters out-of-the-blue informing them the price for a dog-boarding licence would be going up from £120 to £570.

Bracknell News:

The fee will apply to dog-boarders who look after pooches in Bracknell Forest, Wokingham Borough and West Berkshire — the three local authority areas which make up the Public Protection Partnership.

But following the creation of a protest group against the price-hike and the popularity of the petition, Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) chiefs have decided to look again at the fees.

READ MORE: Dog-boarding price-hike petition receives hundreds of signatures

A spokesperson for BFC told the News: “It remains the council’s position that our fees are in line with other authorities but, given that for some providers, who are only renewing their licenses, the transition appears harsh, we are undertaking a case by case review to see if the transitional arrangements agreed by Members, have been applied correctly.”

A letter sent out to some Bracknell Forest dog-boarders from manager of the PPP, Sean Murphy, read: “Although the new licensing scheme focusses on the requirements of the law and therefore the need for higher inspection requirements (including frequency)... concerns have been raised that the increased fees for renewals have been considerable for some operators.

“The intention of the licensing scheme was always to deliver high levels of welfare and required a fee which it was our aim to be phased in.

“Following complaints from a number of licence holders, the council is currently reviewing the implementation of the scheme, specifically the renewal costs and payment instalment arrangements.

“We are therefore pausing the renewal charging process at this stage [...].”

Wokingham Borough Council and West Berkshire Council were both approached for comment by the News, but neither has replied.

Bracknell News:

Jackie Whitbread, a member of Home Dog Boarders against PPP Licence Fees, said: "We hope the review process results in a significant reduction in fees overall, a lower renewal fee as was always the case previously and that phasing in of new fees (which should be transparent in calculation and application) is implemented in a sympathetic manner.

"A commitment to consult us before rates are changed again would be appreciated."

The fee for a licence is a price hike of 375 per cent and was first agreed by BFC councillors at a budget meeting in February 2020.

Its new cost means it is now more expensive than the £500 fine for not having a licence, according to DEFRA.

With all of the 110 dog-boarding businesses in the PPP area having come through a difficult financial period following the coronavirus pandemic, many dog-carers are worried the price-hike will put them out of business.

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Karen Fleck, the petition’s organiser, wrote: “Many home boarding providers have a very low turnover, and are already struggling with a downturn in bookings caused by the Covid-19 pandemic; a significant number will be unable to pay.

“They will either be forced to cease trading or have to increase their prices considerably to cover this huge increase.”