Keep some beaches in Cornwall Dog Free during summer months

Keep some beaches in Cornwall Dog Free during summer months

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Cornwall Council has chosen to make all its beaches dog friendly year round, with 16 hour a day access (8 hour daytime bans) on all beaches (July and August for all beaches, 15th May - 30th September for Blue Flag Beaches) Dogs will have access to all beaches from 6pm to 10am the next day, with no out of hours warden control.

Ourselves, residents of St Ives (origin of this petition) but also of wider Cornwall,  being parents and grandparents of young children, working and living locally, amongst us many dog owners, disagree in the strongest terms with this change on grounds of health and hygiene, public protection, fair access, residents rights, the compromised validity of the consultation process and the impossibility of implementing the stated hours of the new ban. This policy goes against the wishes of our Harbour Master, fishing communities and RNLI volunteers. The Council have not explained why they have chosen to ignore these viewpoints. This policy means there is not a single dog free beach in Cornwall, prioritising the rights of dogs and dog owners over the needs, rights, health, wellbeing, preference and livelihoods of local workers and residents.  

The consultation process undertaken by Cornwall Council was deeply flawed, offering no specific option to keep the existing ban in place. Those wishing to keep the ban had to write this as a comment. Non residents could vote freely and households anywhere in the country could submit multiple entries, meaning online dog pressure groups with links countrywide have exerted undue influence on a decision that affects primarily locals. We believe this is unfair and should be reviewed urgently. The Council say that they approached ‘interested parties’, but have not named them and many local organisations and businesses were not consulted.  Not everyone has easy access to the Internet and some town residents find it difficult to answer questions on-line; the lack of legally required inclusivity in the process is very evident. A director of the St.Ives Tourism Committee has resigned due to this decision, and the majority of local St.Ives Town councillors are strongly opposed. In making this decision, Rob Nolan, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Public Protection, has gone directly against the recommendations of the Neighbourhood Overview and Scrutiny Committee (NOSC), citing the flawed consultation as having more sway than the views of his fellow councillors, the relevant committee, and the many hundreds of residents to whose emails he has still not replied. We demand to be heard. 

On health grounds, we demand a review. Children are particularly vulnerable to diseases from dog faeces such as toxocariasis. The NHS website lists preventative measures including avoiding areas that can be used by dogs or cats.  If this advice is taken literally all Cornish beaches could be out of bounds for children as well as vulnerable people, like the elderly and cancer patients. As can be widely seen on the pavements, pathways and parks of our beautiful county, many dog owners are not responsible enough to collect their dogs faeces, and even diligently collected faeces leave behind traces. Multitudes of discarded, soiled plastic poo bags are already found on all dog friendly beaches countywide, posing a huge threat to hygiene, ecology, and public safety. Irrefutable photographic evidence will follow. 

On safety grounds we demand to be heard; dog attacks continue to occur, particularly on the vulnerable including young children. Cornwall Council have put the safety of children and adults at risk with this decision, meaning that no beach is free of potentially dangerous dogs in the mornings and evenings. As an example of how ill considered this decision is in terms of local impact, the Surf School at Porthmeor (St Ives) runs a classes for children of residents from June to the end of September. Classes for the youngest children (4-5) begin at 9am, meaning there would be an overlap of an hour with dogs (potentially off leads) running amongst young children. The St Ives Surf Life Saving Club which trains children and adults throughout the summer on West Side of Porthmeor have multiple overlaps with the new hours, Young Nippers & all Nipper age groups – Saturdays 1600 – 1800 (many families stay on to enjoy the beach with barbecues after) Juniors – Tuesdays & Thursdays 1800 – 2000. Seniors/Masters – Mondays & Thursdays 1800 – 2000 & Saturdays 0900 – 1100 alongside lifeguard training. These cannot coexist safely. 

On the grounds of fair access, we believe Cornwall Council must keep some beaches dog free during the summer months, to use for families, workers, residents, locals and non dog loving visitors for more than merely 8 hours daily. The tourist trade and its associated industries are the largest employer in the county, and during the summer season thousands of locals can only enjoy our beaches out of working hours, i.e. before 9am and after 6pm or later. These include the staff of the cafes, restaurants, hotels, guests houses, b&bs, surf schools, etc that keep the Cornish tourist industry running smoothly. We believe that people who live and work in the county should be able to enjoy our beaches during summer mornings and evenings without being disturbed by dogs. Specific to St Ives, Porthmeor Beach is the only of our five that allows barbecues. In the summer months many people chose to enjoy this privilege by having family and group dinners on this beach, beginning in the early evening approximately 5/6pm. This will now be an hour that dogs are allowed to roam freely, ensuring chaos and compromising safely. 

Until this ban was revoked, 83% of Cornish beaches were dog friendly 12 months of the year. We believe this is plenty. We have hundreds of miles of publicly accessible footpaths, parks and open land nearby suitable for dog walking 24 hours a day, as well as a multitude of beaches. We believe that people friendly, clean, safe, green beaches - i.e. dog free, should be available in Cornwall. 

If you agree, then please vote to revoke this policy.