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Dog lovers ‘penalised’ by beach ban

DOG LOVERS will be unfairly penalised by a council’s decision to press ahead with a blanket ban on them exercising their pets on a newly created beach in Northumberland, it was claimed this week.

The Kennel Club accused Wansbeck District Council of ignoring public opinion by enforcing the year-round ban on dogs being exercised on the new beach at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and called for a rethink. The new, 300m-long beach was created after 500,000 tonnes of sand was imported from the Lincolnshire coastline and pumped ashore at Newbiggin last summer.

Councillors have agreed to bring in a special control order banning dogs from the stretch of sand on any day of the year, despite a 1,000-name protest petition organised by local dog owners and opposition from the Kennel Club.

Council officials say the tough crackdown is needed to ensure that the new beach is kept clean and safe for families to enjoy, and is not ruined by dog fouling. The ban will come into force in March and dog owners caught flouting it will be given a £75 fine and prosecuted if they fail to pay up.

Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, which represents UK dog owners, told OUR DOGS: ‘We are extremely disappointed that Wansbeck Council has pushed ahead with plans to ban dogs completely on Newbiggin beach. In a similar situation last year, the Isle of Wight Council took heed of the opposition to a proposed beach ban and revised their orders.

‘Wansbeck Council has missed a similar opportunity for compromise. The Kennel Club acknowledges it is not always appropriate for dogs to be walked on beaches in the summer months, but a year long ban penalises dog walkers and benefits no one. Even at this stage, we recommend they reconsider.’

Council solicitor, Carolyn Forster, said a working group asked to consider whether or not dogs should be allowed on the beach, had accepted that a year-round ban would penalise responsible dog owners. ‘However, a balancing exercise has to be carried out between the needs of responsible owners to exercise their dogs and the right of others to a clean, safe environment free from nuisance and any risk to public health. Imposing a ban on the entire beach will simplify enforcement and create an area where families, particularly children, can enjoy the amenities. There is a conflict between dogs running loose and families enjoying a picnic on the beach.’ KC Dog, the Kennel Club’s responsible dog owners’ network, has always made it clear that it understands that beaches are not always suitable places to exercise dogs during the summer months, as the beaches are busier at that time. However, since beaches are not normally as busy for the rest of the year, KC Dog does not believe there is a valid reason to ban dogs from the beach all year round.