Donkeys look set to ride again in Southwold

Children's donkey rides can now be offered in Southwold beach after town councillors welcomed the idea.

Children's donkey rides can now be offered in Southwold beach after town councillors welcomed the idea.

The seaside pastime dating back to Victorian times looks set to return to the north Suffolk town after Southwold Town Council granted permission to donkey-owner Lydia Ward at a meeting on Tuesday night.

Ms Ward, who already operates donkey rides on Lowestoft beach, will now apply for an official licence.

Southwold is one of Suffolk's most famous seafronts and already boasts a traditional pier where visitors can play ironic arcade games such as 'Whack-a-Banker' and use classic penny pusher machines, but the town has not seen donkey rides in years. Ms Ward first contacted Southwold Town Council in 2010.

Speaking prior to this week's meeting she said: 'I was expecting a resounding no, but got quite the opposite reaction. They agreed to it, but unfortunately it all came about too late to secure a licence and it was decided that I could try again next year.'

Ms Ward, who owns six donkeys, plans to hold a 'feature day' in Southwold where families will travel to the beach especially to see the donkeys.

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It is estimated that about 900 donkeys work on UK beaches each year. In May the annual licensing of beach donkey operators takes place. The process is overseen by the Donkey Sanctuary, an organisation that ensures all donkeys are cared for and fit to carry out the work expected of them.

While it is local councils who are responsible for regulating beach donkeys, many work in co-operation with the Donkey Sanctuary to provide an identification scheme for the animals. The Sanctuary also helps and supports beach donkey operators and council representatives through the provision of high quality, professional advice, training and support on donkey welfare.