Scarborough Council's beach dog ban decision could be overturned

Scarborough Council could be set to perform a fast U-turn over its plans to enforce a ban, starting next month, on dogs being walked on parts of the borough’s beaches.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 20th April 2020, 9:04 am
Updated Monday, 20th April 2020, 10:51 am

The authority announced on Friday that it would still be imposing the restrictions on May 1 despite the coronavirus pandemic keeping people away from the beaches.

The council said the reasons for enforcing the ban were to help to improve the bathing water quality in the borough and that there were legal difficulties in reversing the public space protection order without a public consultation and a vote.

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Within hours of the announcement, hundreds of posts had sprung up online from residents calling on the council to change its mind.

Now, it seems the dog owners may get their way.

Late on Saturday night, Cllr Tony Randerson, a cabinet member who originally backed the decision, posted on his Facebook page to say he’d now asked for the ban to be reconsidered.

He wrote: “Because of the enormous amount of feedback relating to the restrictions coming into place May 1 I have asked our senior officers to immediately look into the actual legalities with regard to both consultation and the requirement as it stands at present of having to attain [the] full council’s blessing to relax these restrictions.

“I am expecting definitive legal advice on this hopefully on Monday (20th).”

One option open to the authority could be to allow the restrictions to come into force on May 1 but then not actually enforce the ban, as is the case currently with on-street parking restrictions in the borough.

Comments on the council’s Facebook page posted by residents after the news of the ban was made public showed the level of frustration at the decision.

One person wrote: “Why can’t it be on hold until we are out of lockdown? It’s an ideal place for the local people to have their walk with dogs, it’s not like there are going to be any tourists.”

Another added: “This is ridiculous, by keeping the ban it will force people into a smaller area. Common sense suggests the ban should be relaxed for the period of the crisis.”

“If this carries on there won’t be a summer tourist season in Scarborough (or anywhere) this year, so why not let the residents use the beach with their dogs for the foreseeable future?” said another.

Other views ranged from calling the decision “sad and short-sighted” to simply “ridiculous”.

Last week the RSPCA called on councils to relax public space protection orders to stop dog owners from having to travel far to walk their pets.

If the council ban came into force it would mean there would be bans in place on the main sections of beach at Scarborough’s South and North bays, Whitby’s West Cliff and Tate Hill beaches, and parts of Filey and Sandsend.