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Dog owners have their say on plans to extend Southwold beach ban for pet pooches

PUBLISHED: 10:01 03 September 2016

Toni and Gideon Mclean with Mable the springer spaniel

Toni and Gideon Mclean with Mable the springer spaniel

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Pet owners have criticised plans to extend a Suffolk beach’s ban on dogs with many saying it would deter them from visiting.

Waveney District Council’s proposals to ban dogs from Southwold’s promenade beach from March to the end of October were met with fierce opposition from people walking their pooches near the seafront yesterday.

Although dogs are already banned from parts of the beach between May 1 and September 30 the new proposals would significantly increase the area covered by the enforcement order and the time for which it would apply.

Dogs are currently permitted on the southern section of the beach as far north as the East Street steps, but under the new recommendations they would be banned from the entire stretch beside the promenade.

WDC said the revised restrictions followed complaints from residents and a proposal from Southwold Town Council.

Stephen Ardley, Waveney’s head of operational partnerships, said: “The revised restrictions will try to balance the needs of all users and ensure our beautiful beaches remain family friendly and open for all to enjoy.”

So far, however, the plans appear to have angered many visitors to the town with more than 1,600 people signing a petition opposing the ban.

And yesterday, dog owners in the town we spoke to were almost entirely against the plans.

Visitors from near and far said they would be less inclined to visit Southwold if the restrictions were imposed, posing fears for businesses in the town, many of which rely on the tourism trade.

Kathy Lines, from Halesworth, regularly walks her 12-year-old spaniel Smudge on the beach but said the ban would deter her from visiting.

“It would be a great shame, because he loves going for walks on the beach,” she added

“If people are responsible and pick up their dog’s mess, I can’t see why it’s a problem to have dogs on the beach.”

Alison White, 50, from Bury St Edmunds, visits Southwold for a week’s holiday every year with her family, including daughter Connie Watson, 13, and their cockapoo Percy.

“I can see how for some families it’s not nice for dogs to be around and so I would be happy with a longer ban,” she said.

“But there should be some parts of the beach that dogs can go on – it shouldn’t be a complete ban.”

Daphne and John Abbott, from Lower Somersham, were visiting the town with Charlie, their five-year-old Norfolk terrier.

Mr Abbot, 85, said he agreed with banning dogs from part of the beach. However the couple also felt there should areas where dogs could visit too.

“If it’s out of the way I don’t see the problem,” said Mrs Abbot, 88.

“You get responsible dog owners but you also get irresponsible ones, who give everyone else a bad name.”

Emma Webb, from nearby Reydon, was walking her fox red Labrador Perry on the beach and said a ban would be a “silly idea”.

“Lots of holidaymakers who come here bring their dogs and I think they would deterred from visiting,” she added.

Gideon and Toni Mclean, from St James near Halesworth, who were visiting with Mabel, their eight month old springer spaniel, said they had already written to the council opposing the ban.

“We think it’s a half-baked idea,” said Mr Mclean.

“We come down here two or three times a week, visiting shops, buying food and going to the pubs or cafes.

“If we can’t bring the dog, we won’t come here.”

Jo and Austen Burrows, who were visiting with their four-year-old cavalpoo Monty from Writtle near Chelmsford, said they were “totally opposed” to a ban.

“For many people dogs are part of the family,” said Mrs Burrows, 47.

“We’ve been coming with the kids for years, but they’re grown up and so now Monty is our baby.

“If we couldn’t bring him on the beach, it would stop us coming.”

Leander Lane and Michael Shields from South Woodham Ferrers were on the beach with Socks and Boots their parson Jack Russell terriers and said the ban would be at odds with Southwold’s generally welcoming attitude to dogs.

“It’s such a dog friendly little town,” said Mr Shields.

“I think a ban would be detrimental to visitors - we wouldn’t come here.”

Ian and Liz Mcveigh were visiting from London with their 14-week-old puppy Badger and said the ban was a “terrible idea”.

“We come here regularly but it would put us off coming back,” said Mr Mcveigh.

Sharon Ker and her daughter Alice were on the beach with their two rescue dogs and friend Lucy Oakes, from Diss.

Ms Ker, from Ely, said she often visited Southwold “but wouldn’t bother if we couldn’t get on the beach with our dog.”

Mo Large, from Bury St Edmunds, was walking her six-year-old bishon frise Buster on the beach with friends.

“I think it should stay them same but people should be reported if they don’t pick up their dog’s mess,” she said.

“They should have more patrols and fine people heavily if they’re caught.”

Samantha White was staying in a beach hut with her children and their dogs Charlie the pomapoo and Spike, a cocker spaniel.

She said the ban was appropriate for parts of the beach but felt it would be more sensible to enforce the current order properly than to expand it over a larger section of the beach.

“That’s going to have an effect on tourism,” she said.

“It seems crazy to go totally dog free.”

The public can have its say on the proposals by visiting here and emailing here before September 12.

A decision will be made at Waveney’s cabinet meeting on September 20.

Police have confirmed no suspicious device has been found after the Center Parcs resort in Elveden was evacuated this evening.

Thousands of families and eager festival-goers braved the changeable weather this weekend to enjoy top bands, food and art at Jimmy’s Festival.

The wealth of “enthusiasm” for keeping Sudbury tidy has been revealed at a meeting organised by the town council, which plans to get the community’s efforts “on the map”.

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