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Whitehall to decide on dog ban

PUBLISHED: 00:57 04 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:49 03 March 2010

WHITEHALL mandarins will decide if there will be a public inquiry into a proposed ban on dogs on Old Felixstowe beach - if enough pet owners protest.

Civil servants are preparing to place a public notice in the Evening Star giving details of Suffolk Coastal council's new by-law to keep dogs off the award-winning shore at The Dip between May and September.

WHITEHALL mandarins will decide if there will be a public inquiry into a proposed ban on dogs on Old Felixstowe beach – if enough pet owners protest.

Civil servants are preparing to place a public notice in the Evening Star giving details of Suffolk Coastal council's new by-law to keep dogs off the award-winning shore at The Dip between May and September.

Dog owners are furious and are preparing a campaign of opposition. They will have 28 days once the notice appears in order to get as many protests to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as possible.

But unless there is a large number against the ban, it is likely to be accepted by the secretary of state and could then come into force this summer.

The Dip has just won a prestigious yellow and blue flag Seaside Award for the fourth year running and council officials say the dog ban is essential if the award is to be kept next year.

"We received a number of complaints about dog fouling on the beach, and also along the promenade, and the proposed restriction during the summer months gives families the option of visiting a dog free area. This should help us both keep The Dip attractive to visitors and the Seaside Award's yellow flag," said Deborah Robinson, director of environmental services.

"What we want to put in place is a similar by-law to that which since 1989 has successfully restricted dogs on the stretch of beach between the Pier and the Spa Pavilion. This has made it an offence to walk a dog there between May 1 and September 30 each year and has helped to keep the beach clean.

"The Seaside Awards have helped attract more visitors to Felixstowe who recognise it as a stamp of quality that guarantees a clean and safe environment.

"To help us keep the Seaside Award, and The Dip's reputation for cleanliness, we think it is fair that there is part of the beach where families know dogs will not have fouled."

The by-laws would make it an offence for anyone other than a registered blind person to allow their dog to go onto the proposed section of the shore. It would also bar owners from taking their dog along part of the promenade.

"Most dog owners are responsible but a few are making our popular beaches unpleasant for others, especially those with small children," said Mrs Robinson.

"We want to achieve a balance between beach users and dog owners and there are still areas where a dog can stroll by the sea without any restriction. The public will now be able to give their views on whether we have got it right and it will be up to the government for the final decision."

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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