CAMPAIGNERS fighting to keep St Ives' beaches open to dogs all year round claim they have overwhelming support from the public after conducting a survey.
St Ives Dog Owners' Group (DOG) delivered a nearly 4,000-strong petition to Mayor of St Ives Ron Tulley last week calling for a rethink on proposals to limit dogs to two small tidal beaches in the St Ives' area during the holiday season.
They are keen to maintain the current system where dogs are allowed on beaches in the early morning and later in the evening.
And they say that a survey they carried out on the four main beaches in St Ives – Porthminster, Porthmeor, Porthgwidden and the Harbour Beach – found a massive positive response to having dogs on beaches.
Barbara Nolan, from DOG, said: "Our beach survey proves that people think the beaches are clean. It shows there is not an issue with dog mess and that people are not against dogs being allowed on beaches."
The DOG survey found:
92.5 per cent of people judged beaches' cleanliness as excellent or good
The most common reason for not rating a beach as clean was cigarette butts, charcoal from barbecues and takeaway wrappers
68 per cent of people didn't take into account whether dogs were allowed on a beach as a reason for choosing to go there, with another 10 per cent choosing a beach specifically for dog access
Crucially, 91.5 per cent of respondents said dogs being allowed on beaches after 7pm and before 8am did not affect them.
This last figure is being cited by DOG as proof that the proposed changes – banning dogs from all but two small beaches during the holiday season – aren't needed.
Of the 17 respondents (less than 9 per cent) who said they were affected, two said they wanted dogs to be allowed on the beach in the day.
Seven (3.5 per cent of the total survey) said they were concerned that owners might not pick up mess; two respondents gave the possibility of dogs barking as a concern, with the remaining six having a variety of different reasons such as "dogs should be allowed after 7pm" or "not a dog-lover".
Barbara Nolan said: "We don't have a problem only using the beaches morning and evening because people should have a right to sit on the beach during the day.
"But in the morning and evening what difference does it make?"
DOG said 201 questionnaires were completed, with most responses representing the views of more than one person. It said respondents were mainly holidaymakers from many areas of the UK.
Councillor Ron Tulley said the staff at St Ives Town Council were still collating more than 600 responses to a consultation the authority ran. He said initial recommendations would be made by the council's environment committee on Wednesday, and voted on by the full council on October 25.