Is it right to ban dogs from beach?

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As Portobello residents call for restrictions to keep their beaches clean, Stuart Rodger and Kate Pickles examine whether similar proposals have worked elsewhere

Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend, but it seems that irresponsible owners are taking the relationship to breaking point.

After repeated complaints about dog fouling and “out-of-control” animals, residents are looking at the possibility of a ban on dogs at parts of Portobello beach and promenade.

With complaints continuing to come in about dog fouling in other areas of the city, the time has come for a tougher solution.

That could mean that, in addition to more dog wardens and fines, dogs are banned in order to clean up the problem.

Have such drastic measures worked elsewhere in the UK?

Northumberland

THE county council has outlined several dog control orders that members of the public must adhere to, excluding the animals from Blythe Beach and Newbiggin By The Sea from May through to
September.

If this order is not adhered to, the dog owner will be forced to pay a fine of £75.

Steven Hall, senior animal welfare officer at Northumberland County Council, said: “In 2011, the new dog control order was issued and there came a marked area where dogs could go on both Blythe Beach and Newbiggin By The Sea. We felt this was a more fair and realistic measure than banning dogs completely.

“We have found that having marked areas for dogs is working well, and members of the public are welcoming the idea. In fact, there have been no fixed penalties issued since the ban.”

Lytham St Annes

FYLDE Borough Council, which is in charge of the beaches at Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, has had seasonal beach restrictions in place for several years.

A dog enforcement officer regularly patrols the beaches. Any person caught allowing their dog to foul and failing to remove the faeces can be issued with a £50 fixed penalty notice.

Spokesman Neil Graham said the rules were well-respected by dog walkers and had never been a
contentious issue.

“We have good sand here and we do get a lot of visitors so we have to have a way of separating the dogs from 
people.

“It works very well. We do have dog wardens who patrol the beaches but they barely have to give a ticket out, maybe once a year, if that.”

Swansea

THE council has outlined a by-law where dogs have been restricted to specific beaches between the months of May and September.

It has placed signs on every beach that indicates whether dogs are permitted or not. Unlike certain beaches in Cornwall, the ban only applies to dog owners during the summer months.

Martin Saville, head of public protection at Swansea Council, said: “It’s important that dog owners pay attention to the relevant signage. During the summer months, we expect a higher volume of families to visit our beaches.

“There are signs at every beach to highlight where dogs are not allowed. We encourage responsible dog ownership and hope beach-goers and pet owners can equally enjoy the wonderful coastline we have at our disposal.”

Nottingham

A DOG ban at 72 park sites in Nottinghamshire caused outcry in 2010.

The measures were brought in by Newark and Sherwood District Council after some owners failed to clean up after their pets. Dog walkers who flout the ban face £75 on-the-spot fines, rising to £1000 if cases go to court.

Nottingham City Council revealed dog mess was a sizeable problem in the city, with more than 200 tonnes of it cleaned up in the past year, costing the taxpayer £234,000.

It has introduced two specialist dog fouling vehicles that are sent out to tackle the problem: a 4x4 called Fido and a specially-adapted motorcycle called Poover. They cost about £100 a day to operate, which works out about £5 per single clean.

LOOK EAST FOR ADVICE

WHEN it considers what to do about problem pooches, Edinburgh could take a look to one Lothian council which has introduced steps to tackle the troubles.

In East Lothian, the council decided that it would be “unfair” to ban dogs on beaches, and so allows dogs on all council-owned beaches all year round.

It has restricted access to animals at nature reserves, however, and provides bags to residents to encourage them to clean up after their pets.

A council spokesman said “We don’t ban dogs on beaches at any time but we do tend to restrict dogs on nature reserves. This is because they can cause disruption to birds on the reserves. It is not because of dog-fouling.

“We feel that it would be very unfair to have dog-free zones . . . owners in the county are responsible. They should not have their dog walking taken away from them.”