Angry dog walkers take to the beach

DOZENS of outraged dog owners today walked a beach in protest at moves to ban their pets from the shore in summer.Owners and pets gathered on Brackenbury cliff top in Old Felixstowe to sign a petition before going down onto the beach at The Dip.

DOZENS of outraged dog owners today walked a beach in protest at moves to ban their pets from the shore in summer.

Owners and pets gathered on Brackenbury cliff top in Old Felixstowe to sign a petition before going down onto the beach at The Dip.

Suffolk Coastal council is proposing to fine pet owners £500 for taking their animals on the shore between May and September.

Organiser of the protest campaign, Fred Simpson, treasurer of Felixstowe Dog Training Club, was delighted with the response to the event.

"It is great to see so many people here - this is a really big issue for dog owners and we wanted to show the council just how upset and angry people are about its proposals," said Mr Simpson.

"We will fight this all the way. It is a further restriction of people's rights to walk their dogs in an area where there is no proof that there have been any problems.

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"Dogs do not cause a problem on the beach at The Dip. It is not a beach which is used that much, except on a very few hot sunny days in summer.

"Legislation already exists which makes it an offence, with a fine of £1,000, to allow a dog to foul the area and not pick it up."

Solicitor Michael Kent claimed the council's by-laws had also not been correctly drawn up and there was problems with the advertisement of them which could force the consultation to be held again.

Dog owners hope this will mean the new laws will not come in this summer and will at least give them a year's reprieve.

Owners say the beach is washed twice a day by the tide and there had been no reported cases of the toxicaria canis disease which dog fouling can cause.

Protesters are hoping to persuade the government either to reject the proposed ban outright or to hold a public inquiry.

Suffolk Coastal put forward the ban because the dog mess was fouling the shore and sea and it was feared it could jeopardise the Seaside Award flag it holds.

Anyone wishing to object should write to DEFRA , Litter and Dog Policy Team, 7/E8 Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6DE, by March 22.

n What do you think - should dogs be banned from the beach? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AN, or email EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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