Hundreds protest against Weymouth beach dog ban

Dog owners on Weymouth beach
Image caption Protesters wanted to show the council how many dog owners used the beach

Hundreds of dog owners have staged a dog-walking protest on Weymouth beach over new rules banning their pets for seven months of the year.

Dogs were not allowed on the beach from May to September but the council extended the ban, which now lasts from Easter until the end of October.

Weymouth Borough Council said the decision was taken after a public consultation.

But protesters say 63% of respondents wanted the dates to stay as they were.

About 200 dog owners and their pets descended on a dog exercise area near the pavilion on Sunday afternoon to protest against the Public Space Protection Order.

More than 1,000 people have also signed a petition to have the changes revoked.

'Not the Mediterranean'

Judi Moore, who started the petition, said: "I do not see how dogs on the beach are an evil nuisance now when they were a welcome adjunct to the town's attractions last year.

"I think not to allow dogs is a retrograde step. This is the English Riviera, not the Mediterranean. Nobody is going to be sitting on the beach in bare feet and a swimming cossie in April and October - it's not sane."

The council said nearly 1,700 people responded to a public consultation about the changes with about a quarter of people wanting a year-round ban.

Councillor Richard Kosior, chairman of the council's Policy Development Committee, said: "We would like to reassure the public that the correct information from the consultation results was taken into account when the Policy Development Committee made a decision to extend the ban."

Community protection councillor Francis Drake said: "Members were aware that the majority of respondents wanted the dates to stay the same. However, after taking the consultation results into consideration, the Policy Development Committee made the decision to extend the ban."

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