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Dog owners will fight plans to ban dogs from Instow beach

By NDJWill  |  Posted: January 25, 2013

  • Dog owners on Instow beach say they will fight any plans to ban their pets.

  • Janet and Peter Barrett with their three Westies, Toby, Sadie and Brinnie.

Comments (18)

A GROUP of dog owners say they will fight any proposals by Instow Parish Council to restrict access to the beach for dogs.

The group, headed by environmental campaigner Joanne Bell, from Fremington, say they would be prepared to break the law should rules banning dogs from the Quay end of the beach during the summer season be introduced by the council.

The group fears the council may be looking to do so, after it learned it's looking to consult the public on the idea.

The council will be holding a public meeting on Thursday to discuss the idea, and will also be asking the public how it should clean the beach.

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The council received several complaints during 2012 about the standard of cleaning on the beach and councillor Peter Cook, who cleaned the beach, has recently resigned - although it's not known whether he did so as a result of the complaints.

And although the council is, at this stage, only looking into the possibility of barring dogs from part of the beach Mrs Bell is incensed at what she says is a deliberate attempt by the council to keep the meeting quiet.

Holding up a poster inviting parishioners to the meeting she said: "This has only gone to councillors. There have been no posters put up or adverts put out.They want a secret meeting."

Mrs Bell also said she believes Christie's Estates, who own the beach, are unaware of the council's plans. 

But Parish clerk Roger Jacob said that wasn't the case. "There's been a notice on the parish notice board since the start of the week," he said, "and it's been on the parish website. We've passed on details to all local organisations and handed out flyers."

Christie's is also aware of the meeting.

Yvonne Fellows, from Bideford, said she would be opposed to the idea of restricting access.

Mrs Fellows, who walks her German Shepherd Kia on the beach, said: "It's never going to be a Blue Flag beach anyway, because of the run-off from the land. And I go on holiday with Kia to places I know she'll be allowed on the beach. A lot of people come to Instow for the same reason. 

"Stopping dogs having the run of the beach wouldn't make sense."

She also pointed out that several pubs in Instow are dog friendly, and that banning dogs from part of the beach could hit their business.

And Jeremy Bell, a dog owner who was just one of dozens on the beach this morning, said he and other dog owners would carry out a mass trespass if the rules were introduced.

"There'd be easily 500 plus dog owners here," he said.

"Dogs are free range. They need somewhere to meet other dogs, run around and communicate. Dogs love it. To keep them on a lead or in a small area would be cruel."

Anyone unable to attend Thursday's meeting, in All Saints Community Centre at 7pm, can drop in from 4pm to let the council know their views.

•    Do you think there should be restrictions on dogs on Instow beach? Let us know by leaving a comment on this story. 

And you can vote in our poll, which can be found on the right-hand side at the top of this page. Alternatively, visit www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk/polls .

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18 comments

  • K9srule  |  January 29 2013, 11:20PM

    Instow beach is not a safe beach for children to be on. The water quality is by the councils own warnings, hazardous. The problem is not the dogs but the chemical and sewage in the water. During the winter, dead and decaying sheep, cow and deer were left on the beach for weeks and the stench was dreadful. Dogs are being used as scapegoats. My dog is under control off lead. He is well trained with positive reinforcements. When on the beach and the Tarka trail I can call him back or ask him to drop to the floor. Cyclist are always commenting how well trained he is. Surely parents are not fooled by the council restricting dogs as an excuse that it will clean up the beach. There is more danger from the water than what's on the beach. Parents are surely not that gullible. Are they ?????

    |   5
  • instow  |  January 28 2013, 12:54PM

    Instow beach is a beautiful space, extremely large, with plenty of space for everyone,and we should ALL be entitled to share that space. However, unfortunately loose dogs and young children do NOT mix well, and a suitable solution needs to be debated. It would appear that the parish council have been a little unfortunate in their presentation of this issue and introduced some very emotive wording such as "BAN or RESTRICT access etc. My understanding as a very local resident of over 7 years is that a system of zoning is being looked into, just like we have on the water, ( which has allocated areas for the various watersports, jetskiing, waterskiing etc.) Then we can all SHARE the beach together and live in harmony, without the associated risks of dogs running loose around small children. There are many other not so pleasant issues to look at (around the subject of fouling and urination on the beach) but why get caught up in these emotive issues, when the bigger problem is glaringly obvious. "Loose dogs + Small children = Confrontation and aggravation.

    |   3
  • Jonny38  |  January 27 2013, 12:14AM

    john camera on beach high resolution to catch offenders doing this and then make them pay for the entire situation, i e change the law lol its not rocket science

    |   2
  • K9CHAT  |  January 26 2013, 11:02PM

    The problem with banning people from wide public open access areas is you are punishing residents who are Law Abiding Citizens within your own constituency. When responsible dog owners are out and about they are the first to tackle irresponsible dog owners about not picking up after their dog, usually always handing them a few poo bags. They are also the first to report offenders as we are more disgusted with their behaviour than the general public. We do not accept their excuses, if we can do it so can they. So why would you want to ban responsible law abiding dog owners who are doing a great job for the council and their community? It is also my understanding that there is not a dog fouling problem at all but rather a litter problem. I see you are very concerned on the cost of cleaning the beaches, however £6,000 per year for a space that vast would be considered reasonable. Yes, I agree to encourage volunteer groups to help to get involved and highlight the serious concern on litter issues. However if community wardens were to visit the area more often and hand out "litter fines", to those who do not dispose of their rubbish responsible you will also see a decrease in your litter. (Are you aware a litter fine is higher than a dog fouling fine)? I would also include in your discussion that there is always more litter than dog fouling. Considering for over a decade the Council have been campaigning to "Bag it & Bin it" which has and is getting through to dog owners. Unlike the general public who use our beaches and don't pick after themselves. With the above in mind, in your opinion do you feel this is enough or would you like to see the community wardens be more active to be affective? Not only to dog owners but to irresponsible members of the public who throw rubbish around. Put you Council money to work and get it back from all irresponsible people and Fine them! The best way forward is to develop a plan of action to start a campaign highlighting the Council/residents: "Welcome Responsible dog owners/people to your parks/beaches".

    |   6
  • john12345678  |  January 26 2013, 10:25AM

    I think you and a lot of other people misunderstand the financial situation and the law and who enforces it, I certainly wasn't clear until I tried to look it up and it is still fairly confusing but in essence it would appear that the police do not fine people who take dogs onto the beach or let them foul it, it is not a criminal offence, it is a breach of a byelaw, it is the council that sets the byelaw and they have to enforce it. It also seems that they fine people very rarely, if at all, the normal approach is to give the dog owner an opportunity to leave or clean-up and avoid a confrontation, only persistent offenders are likely to get fined. Although the dog warden has the powers to ask for the name and address of an offender they are not able to arrest or detain that person, to do that would require having the police or a PCSO (who don't have the man-power to do proper policing properley) and by the time you have called one of them in you have incurred more cost and the dog owner will have left anyway, what then ? pursue them in a squad car with blues and twos ? Track them down and go round their house ? This all costs money, lots of it. So not only in practice is it difficult and costly to try and fine someone it is harder still to attempt to enforce the fine through the courts if the dog owner presents even a modicum of a defence and this can easily cost the council more than the fine in legal costs and of course the dog warden would have to appear in court as a witness, that could take up most of a working day, and all this with no guarantee of success or payment. Much the same as parking in the county makes a loss each year the fact is there really is no money gathered from fines to finance anything, it all just ends up costing money. So then what is so wrong with a voluntary scheme where responsible dog owners play a part in resolving the situation, this issue is being played out all over the country, not just here in North Devon, the people best placed to actually do anything about irresponsible dog owners are the responsible ones ! They have a vested interest after all and they would come cheaper than any other option. I have yet to hear a sensible reason why it wouldn't work from anyone I have talked to about the idea. ANYWAY The elephant in the room is the existing appalling standard of water quality at Instow and indeed it appears Saunton too. Working together to find solutions to problems and resolve differences doesn't mean ignoring facts because they are inconvenient or unpleasant. The facts are that the problems with pollution in the Taw and Torridges estuary have been ignored for too long, sure the EA have done a lot of work to try and resolve it but it is still the case that the water can be dangerous, and even life threatening, to people especially after spells of heavy rain. Why aren't people getting fired up about that ?

    |   3
  • ShayGB  |  January 26 2013, 8:54AM

    Just to mention - many other beaches benefit from 'beach clean' initiatives - I know that SAS volunteers run several in the area. I don't know if such a volunteer scheme has ever been attempted for Instow so forgive my ignorance but if such a scheme was initiated, I would certainly be able to volunteer on a regular basis. I know it will never be possible to please everyone - some people just don't like dogs - but It would be a start.

    |   6
  • ShayGB  |  January 26 2013, 8:47AM

    I'm sadly not surprised to learn of this report. We love Instow - it's our local beach. It's a privilege to have a beach available to allow our two dogs to run around & enjoy a bit of freedom, particularly with the ever increasing restrictions within the locality. I believe it is a privilege - not to be taken for granted. That's why we always clean up the poop & do our best to respect other users. We contribute more than just bagged up poop in the poop bins though! We use the Instow Arms, & John's Deli regularly too. As others have alluded to - perhaps it's time to do a bit more for the beach. This week I'll make an effort to pick up abandoned poop & other litter. Easier than trying to convince a financially pressured local authority to fund a warden - great idea but somehow I think a few signs displaying the banning order would be cheaper & easier for them if the problem persists.

    |   6
  • Jonny38  |  January 26 2013, 8:14AM

    from a responsible dog owner who does not let his dog run free unless the beach is empty, why cant we finance a dog warden with all the fines he could collect if the authourities actually did something about the problem in the first place ? more wasting time and money distracting from a problem that should be dealt with by the rules that are already in place. actually catch some people letting thier dogs foul the beach and fine them properly 500 quid or whatever it is, am very certain they wont do it agian ! what would it take, 1 guy sat on a wall for a day, maybe, umm,,, a policeman lol ! even better make a new law, dog owner who does not pick it up gets his or her face stuffed in it good and proper lol and 500 quid fine ! but if what john12345678 says is right letting your dog foul the beach may make it cleaner haha rant over !

    |   -1
  • john12345678  |  January 25 2013, 4:23PM

    I don't want to start getting too down on Instow but without dog owners using it who else is going to go there if they know the true facts about the place ? So instead of ranting pro and con about dogs how about some actual facts from the Environment Agency ? The fact is that the water quality at Instow falls below the acceptable level for safe bathing and use of the beach, that's not my opinion, that is the EA testing, it is not debatable. Another fact is that the primary cause of this is rain water run-off from agricultural land into the Torridge or Taw and over-flow from sewers again there is no point trying to argue this one way or another because it is taken from the EA report. So whether you ban dogs or not it does not alter the fact that if you take yourselves or your family to Instow and use the beach or sea you are running a very high risk of getting ill. Banning dogs from part or all of the beach for part or all of the year is not going to make any difference. It is simply not a safe beach anyway and you shouldn't go there with your kids if you have any regard for your families safety.

    |   -15
  • burwood  |  January 25 2013, 3:48PM

    Is it really only a minority of dog owners whilst walking the Tarka trail I have only ever seen a few on leads, when not on a lead the dog is not under control!!

    |   9

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