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Can St Ives afford to ban dogs on beaches?

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: November 01, 2012

A thing of the past? Monty the chocolate labrador enjoys Porthmeor Beach in the summer sun.   Alban Roinard

A thing of the past? Monty the chocolate labrador enjoys Porthmeor Beach in the summer sun. Alban Roinard

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AS ST IVES stands on the brink of a controversial order banning dogs from beaches, a leading councillor has said the town should never have launched a consultation on the issue in the first place.

Members of the town council's environment committee last week voted 5-3 to recommend the summer ban on dogs on the majority of beaches in St Ives and Carbis Bay.

Now a debate that has raged for months – and become both bitter and personal – is set to be decided next Wednesday when the recommendation goes before the full council.

However, the deputy mayor has now told The Cornishman that the council was naive in launching the consultation and would not be able to police or pay for a ban if it did introduce one.

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Councillor Colin Nicholls said the consultation – which had more than 900 responses, more than two-thirds against a ban – was a mistake that councillors had found themselves talked into and whose results they were now ignoring.

A ban – replacing current rules that allow dogs on all the area's popular beaches before 8am and after 7pm – now looks a real possibility, ut Mr Nicholls said there were no funds to police it.

"I think it's disappointing for the community," he said.

"The consultation came out against a ban and it looks like the councillors aren't listening.

"We should never have had a consultation. We had no issue [with dogs on beaches].

"Now if we have a ban we can't police it because we don't have the revenue. We can't raise the [council tax] precept. We were naive in taking it on."

His comments are the latest twist in a saga that has seen neighbours at each other's throats and divided opinions in the council chamber.

St Ives resident Mark Noall has found himself at the centre of the storm after he championed dog banning orders for the main beaches in St Ives and Carbis Bay during the peak tourist months.

Mr Noall says St Ives has the best bathing beaches in the country and that holidaymakers have complained to beach managers and the owners of businesses along the sands about dogs fouling and causing a nuisance.

He says the quality of beaches is affected by dogs being allowed on to the sands – especially those beaches that are not wholly tidal, where dog urine and traces of dog faeces are not washed away.

"St Ives invites people to come and spend their summers on these beaches so it's reasonable that those beaches should be as clean and safe as possible," he said.

"Between Porthkidney and Porthmeor there isn't a square inch of sand dogs can't go on every single day of the year. There are dog bans on thousands of beaches in the UK. They're perfectly normal. Families need to feel confident that they're coming to beaches that are clean. This is a big thing and it underpins St Ives's reputation."

However, campaigners St Ives Dog Owners' Group (DOG) say the public consultation shows the vast majority of respondents want to maintain the current system and is urging people to approach their councillors on the matter.

Member Deborah Martin said: "We can't predict what the other councillors are going to say [next week] but we are asking people from Carbis Bay and St Ives to get in contact with their councillors and ask what the point was of being in a consultation if they aren't going to listen to the result.

"A lot of people are very angry. The vast majority are against the ban. The chamber of trade and commerce are against the ban. We've tried to be systematic and logical but it feels like our arguments have been ignored."

Mayor Ron Tulley said he had fought to ensure both sides of the case were heard but admitted that if a ban were imposed it would have long-term financial implications.

"If we enter into our own ban we're responsible for policing it and even if we vote to remove it later, it would remain with us to bear the cost," he said.

"If we do enter into it then for ever more the town council will have to pay."

Do you think dogs should be banned on St Ives beaches during the summer months? Vote in our poll to the right of this article.

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  • barkingmad  |  November 05 2012, 11:06PM

    Whilst I respect the views of contributors here, I see little relevance to the original article, which was simply questioning the affordability of any blanket ban. Mayor Tulley rightly identifies the ongoing cost of attempting to implement and enforce such a ban, and argues that the council could not (and therefore will not?) be able to police the issue. Currently the restrictions are extensive, but at least provide a degree of balance for dog owners (and no, not all owners have access to a garden to exercise their dogs - you are overlooking the tens of thousands of visitors and tourists who stay in and around the town) and whilst this balance exists the current restrictions are, by and large, fully respected and upheld by all. Extend the ban on beaches to an unreasonable extent, and openly admit that you then can't afford to enforce it, and there will be an immediate, widespread disregard for any ban at any time, creating a problem that currently does not exist. On the subject of 'affordability' to the town of any such ban, surely the cost of implementing it will only amount to a tiny fraction of the revenue lost to the town and its businesses when visitors and tourists are inevitably driven from St Ives to holiday elsewhere within, or ouside of, the county, where their dogs (and their spending) will be welcomed with open arms. Oh - and if you're a cat owner smugly observing these discussions, then beware - 'Blue Flag' criteria stipulates beaches must effectively control any access by dogs and all other domestic animals, so your time will come! The same criteria also requires a supply of fresh drinking water, recycling facilities and fully accessible toilet facilities for all registered beaches - banning dogs overnight will not allow the blue flag to remain flying unless the loos are also unlocked and being regularly cleaned and serviced and bins are being emptied - surely at a cost that will far outweigh anything the dog ban creates. Hopefully the council will realise that there is still the opportunity here to maintain a workable AND affordable balance which will, by and large, be acceptable to the wider majority - be they local residents, visitors, holiday makers, dog lovers, families or businesses - before it is too late and the expensive damage is done.

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  • House Of Bartlett  |  November 02 2012, 11:27PM

    @williaia2, do you know how many of st Ives houses do not have a garden? Or a garden big enough for a dog? Nor can you make a dog poop on demand, i personally cant do that either.And if no one cleared up their dog mess, there would be amasses of the stuff. I live here, do not have a dog, don't really like them to be honest, but have never actually seen dog poo on the beaches here! I respect the right for people to have pets and access to exercise them properly, and if the beach is nearest then so be it. I personally rely on holidaymakers for my business and would not like to lose a chunk of my customers because some people want to change what has been working for years. If it isn't broke, don't fix it, oh and have you seen the results of the 'Consultation' about it and what people feel about this?

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  • Fuzzyfuzzball  |  November 02 2012, 3:04PM

    Hake4life, thankyou for the update, I missed that. Looks like this could be the compromise that will be voted in.

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  • hake4life  |  November 02 2012, 2:28PM

    Pasty girl is correct the recommendation of the environment committee is to allow dogs access to the harbour beach before 8am and after 7pm from Easter to the end of September. From October until Easter dogs would be allowed on all the in St Ives beaches without restriction. It would help if people would read the town council say rather than the misleading information published by Life's a Beach. The actual recommendations are include in the meeting minutes here: http://tinyurl.com/azpvkfm

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  • Fuzzyfuzzball  |  November 02 2012, 1:56PM

    Pasty Girl You are wrong in your assumption, the Harbour beach would be a permanent ban all year. this is removing all accessible beaches from the town, that is why there is so much push back.

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  • Pastygirl  |  November 02 2012, 12:02PM

    As I understand it, the amended recommendation is for dogs still to be allowed on the harbour beach in the early mornings and evenings, whilst the 24 hour seasonal ban will be re-instated on the Blue Flag beaches, allowing them to keep the Blue Flags flying 24 hours a day. This gives dog owners an easily accessible, town centre beach for their dogs and seems to be a reasonable compromise, leaving locals and visitors the choice to sit on a beach from which dogs have been excluded or one where they have been allowed.

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  • williaia2  |  November 02 2012, 12:31AM

    Maybe dog owners should walk their dogs near their own homes and make sure their dog(s) does its "business" in their owner's gardens/properties. All we see these days around beaches are either bins overflowing with dog excrement or bags of the stuff just dumped on the paths or in hedges. If dog owners are not willing to take their dogs excrement back to their houses in their nice clean cars to dispose of it, why should the rest of us have to put up with the stuff left lying around the countryside. People need to think before having a dog about the responsibilities of owning one. There's been a vast increase in Cornwall in dog ownership and these days it's almost like having run a gauntlet of dogs every time you go to the coast, with crazy owners who let their dogs run up and jump all over you and don't even think to apologise. Total selfishness!

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  • Fuzzyfuzzball  |  November 01 2012, 11:02PM

    People see these issues in isolation. It is only when they affect you do most people respond. In major cities there is talk and voting on the introduction of 20mph areas, these include those areas outside of town where people see no reason to adhere and so break the law. You need to decide if you are willing to start to contribute to the removal of your rights? How far will will it take before you become angered by the situation? What about those that like to walk. The Lake District is being eroded and littered by people leaving toilet paper and their **** on the high ground, still feeling smug? Feel the need to start banning walkers? Come on, at least dog walkers on the whole pick up. I have stopped walking in the Lake District since this happened. I feel cheated on my rights to wander.

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  • Fuzzyfuzzball  |  November 01 2012, 10:43PM

    @ Emmit [sic] that is spelling mistake, to think about humans only, have you heard of the WWF, RSPCA and others, they see that animals without voice need representation. In this case the support of those people that thought it worthy of response did so. Did you? Or are you a long distance keyboard warrior with no local implications to deal with. You appear to be local, how about when the political leadership changes and no Emmets are allowed? Will you stand for that as the County plunges into deep recession? Be careful for what you vote for.

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  • Fuzzyfuzzball  |  November 01 2012, 10:31PM

    it does amuse me when people want to pick up urine sand or not as the case may be. Is your world really that sterile? did you know sewage does wash up on the beach? If you cannot go on a beach where a seagull has dropped excrement or a small child has done a sneaky wee inside the growing wind breaks then you need to decide if you can leave the house without being bubble wrapped. he

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