DOG OWNERS in a Suffolk seaside town are jubilant after health officers dropped plans to have dogs banned from an award-winning beach.
Local authorities gave up the five year fight to ban dogs from part of the beach at The Dip, Old Felixstowe, because they say there is no evidence that the pets are a problem.
Dog owners, furious at the idea to ban them and to fine them £500 if they were caught taking their dogs for a walk on the shore, held a protest march along the beach and hundreds of people signed a petition.
The stretch from Brackenbury and Clifflands area is popular with dog walkers, who are already prevented from taking their pets on the main holiday beach between the Spa Pavilion and Arwela Road areas during the summer season.
But Suffolk Coastal council said it had received a number of complaints from families about dog fouling on the beach, which holds a yellow flag Seaside Award for its cleanliness and facilities.
A mistake in papers prepared for the ban delayed it being put in place, and it was subsequently decided to wait until the new Clean Neighbourhoods Act came into force.
Principal environmental health officer Tim Davidson said the new law meant that action could be taken, but measures should be ‘a necessary and proportionate response to problems caused by the activities of dogs and those in charge of them’ and there must be evidence.
‘To gather the evidence to support any of the new types of Dog Control Orders, we asked officers of Suffolk Coastal Services Ltd to inspect The Dip beach for a period of one week earlier on in the year,’ said Mr Davidson.
‘These inspections were carried out at the times when dogs would be walked - early in the morning and evenings - and that included Saturday, Sunday and a Bank Holiday Monday.
‘The evidence they gathered showed that there were very few incidents that could be dealt with under any of the four types of Dog Control Order.
‘The evidence did not support the making of any of the new Dog Control Orders and therefore we do not propose to declare any Dog Control Orders for the Dip beach.’
Fred Simpson, treasurer of Felixstowe Dog Training Club, said: ‘Everyone who walks their dogs along there will be very pleased with this decision. We said all along that it was unfair and unjust and that the dogs did not cause a problem.’