Dogs have been banned from a town beach in a desperate bid to tackle fouling problems – but critics have kicked up a stink about the controversial move.
Warkworth Harbour Commissioners (WHC) have imposed the restriction at Amble Little Shore because muck is being left along the stretch ‘on a daily basis’.
The ban, which includes the dunes area, runs from now until the end of September. WHC, who own the land, hope that the restriction will allow families to use the beach area safely during the summer months.
However, the news, which was announced on the Warkworth Harbour Amble Facebook page on Monday, hasn’t gone down well with everyone.
Critics have voiced their disapproval, with opponents branding it draconian and ridiculous.
Objectors say WHC have not consulted on the issue, believe it will be hard to police and claim that responsible dog walkers who pick up after their pooches are being made to suffer for the irresponsible few that don’t.
But WHC have defended the move, saying it was forced to act and that the length of the ban is in line with other beaches where dogs aren’t allowed, such as Newbiggin and Blyth.
Signs will be placed around the Little Shore soon. Dogs are, however, still able to go onto the nearby pier area.
WHC spokesman Dr Paul Morrison said: “In an effort to reduce the amount of dog fouling on the Little Shore, it has been decided that dogs will not be allowed onto the Shore, including the dunes area.”
Dr Morrison added: “It is the sheer amount of dog fouling that goes on, with people not picking it up. The Little Shore is so important now as part of Amble’s future change towards a tourist resort and destination for visitors. So many children and families use that beach, from locally and further afield, and it is the only beach in Amble where people can come down safely and there are toilet facilities and other facilities nearby.”
“The consultation process is not something that we took lightly. We have acted in response to complaints and in that sense, the consultation process has been the feedback we have received from people complaining about the dog fouling and the level of dog fouling. It was quite obvious that we had to do something.
“In relation to policing, hopefully the many responsible people out there will help with it. I do understand people’s feelings and it is sad that the minority can have an impact on the experience of others – we are sympathetic.”
On Tuesday, Amble resident Tony Reynolds contacted the Gazette to voice his disapproval at the decision.
Mr Reynolds, who walks his greyhound at the Little Shore each day, said: “I had heard rumours about this, but there has been no consultation and the ban is so unfair on all of us who use the Little Shore and pick up after our dogs. I find it totally odd that there will be a mass ban for the summer months. Amble is trying to get on the up and in one fell swoop this will hit the tourist industry – there will be no one up there.
“My grandson loves coming to the beach with the dog, but this fun has now been ruined. Then there’s the elderly people who live nearby who walk their dogs there, because it is a handy place to go.
“And how about the cans and the used condoms that are there – this is as much a health risk to a young child.”
Social-media users have reacted to the news on the Warkworth Harbour Amble Facebook page, with many voicing their disapproval.
Suzanne Purvis wrote: ‘Absolutely ridiculous. You’ll be banning seagulls and children next’, while Elaine Young posted: ‘I shall continue to walk my dog and let him play with our children! This is our beach! We live here! It’s our beach! Banning dogs? Ban the owners that don’t pick their dogs mess up. I’m not adhering to it.’
Mark Cooper added: ‘It will stop a lot of people visiting over the summer. I do fully understand that it is a severe problem and I’m really not proud showing friends around Amble pier and Little Shore when it’s covered in vast amounts of dog faeces, but surely there is a better solution to enforcing this than stopping not only tourists but us locals from enjoying our Little Shore with our dogs!’
But not all are against. Sarah Keen Stewart wrote: ‘I respect and agree with the dog ban. We live on the coast, there are plenty of beaches in walking distance to walk your dog on. Surely everyone can keep one beach dog free and safe and clean for children playing. As a dog owner myself I don’t know what the big deal is!’
Amble mayor Craig Weir said he could understand why action has been taken because ‘of the irresponsible behaviour that has been going on for years without any change’, but he admitted it was a tricky subject.
The Little Shore is not the only beach in Northumberland to have a dog ban from May until the end of September. These restrictions are also in place at Newbiggin by the Sea, from the breakwater at Church Point to the beach access from the promenade at Sidney Crescent, and at Blyth, from the beach access at Beachway to the beach access at the southern end of the Links Road car park.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Northumberland Coast AONB said that it has produced a guidance leaflet, entitled Taking Your Dog To The Coast.