SIR — On Friday, January 15, my dog went missing from woodland near the Morestead Road.

After a fruitless search of the environs, I went to the Winchester City Council office, where I was told by the receptionist that my dog had been found “straying” in the Morestead Road and taken to kennels in Petersfield.

Since it seemed that the dog had not been “straying” at all, I asked for the names of the dog wardens responsible for this canine abduction. I was refused this information and invited to “take a seat”.

Minutes later, a rather officious man introduced himself as the manager of environmental protection. He too refused to give the names of the wardens, but told me that if I came back in about an hour and handed over £25, then the dog would be returned.

I left the office and found it closed on my return after the agreed hour. I started to walk away when I was approached by the official who had my dog held on a lead. I replaced the lead with my own lead, and told the man I could drop the money in when the office was open.

To my surprise, the Jobsworth then grabbed the lead and started pulling on it with considerable force, while hissing through gritted teeth: “If you want your dog back, you pay that fine now! I won’t give in!”

Another man then appeared out of the shadows and held out a demanding hand. I handed over £25 and the dog was released.

“I suppose you require a receipt, sir,” said the man sarcastically.

“Yes please, and I ain’t been knighted yet”, I replied.

He produced a pen and a clipboard, but said “Sorry mate, pen’s run out!” Both men then disappeared behind the office building and were not seen again.

I have been known in the past to liken some bureaucrats to racketeers, but it would appear that the Stalinist tendency in Colebrook Street now has the right to impose on-the-spot fines on citizens for minor infringements without written notice, and to demand immediate cash payment on a dimly-lit street while holding a cherished canine companion hostage.

Frank Williams, Morestead Road, Winchester.