Is proposed dog ban on Southwold beach barking up the wrong tree?

Southwold beach. Dog walkers enjoying the sunshine.

Southwold beach. Dog walkers enjoying the sunshine. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A bid to increase a ban on dogs to cover a larger section of one of the UK's most popular beaches during the summer has sparked a fierce debate among residents.

At the moment, dogs are banned from the northern-most end of the promenade south to the East Street steps at Southwold beach between May 1 and September 30 each year. But a new public space protection order (PSPO) proposed by Waveney District Council would extend the ban to the southern-most end of the promenade – and extend the time period from March 1 to October 31.

Stephen Ardley, district council cabinet member of operational partnerships, said: 'While we appreciate that owners enjoy exercising their dogs on the beach, beaches are also there to be enjoyed by other people who may not want to share their space with dogs.

'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.'

But that has sparked fury among many dog owners, who believe being able to walk a dog in the free open air on one of the country's finest beaches is a key benefit of living in and visiting the area.

Southwold resident Cath Pickles said: 'The proposals are unnecessary, unenforceable and ultimately will damage the local economy.

'Families and people with dogs will simply choose to go somewhere else.'

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The restrictions would not apply to anyone who is registered blind or has a registered assistance dog but fines can be given to those who don't comply with a PSPO.

The consultation is due to run until Monday, September 12 so a decision can be made at the district council's September 20 cabinet meeting. The proposed PSPOs, which also include Kessingland, Corton and Carlton Marshes, are available to view at www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/community/anti-social-behaviour

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