Dog access to Whitby beach 'puts public safety at risk' - says councillor

Dogs are banned on Whitby beach from May to September.
Dogs are banned on Whitby beach from May to September.

Dog walkers have expressed their outrage after the ban on dogs on Whitby beach was extended, making access “a disaster waiting to happen”.

Borough councillor Rob Barnett has said that the new restriction, which runs further down the beach, is “ill thought out, unwarranted and puts public safety at risk”.

A petition has now been started online calling on the council to restore the previous access point.

It says: “Dog owners in Whitby were shocked to find that the seasonal dog ban on Whitby West beach had been extended to the end of the beach huts, forcing them to use a set of steps that are slimy, steep and incomplete. This access leads onto rocks meaning that anyone who is less than agile and 100% fit is finding them unsafe to use. Some are putting their safety at risk by trying, others are unable to go on the beach now.”

Gazette reader Jeanette MacDonald posted on Facebook: “Totally agree, it’s ridiculous – the access point along from the chalets is unsuitable for many dog walkers. And having seen folk slip on the steps and rocks down to the beach already, I sincerely hope no one really hurts themselves.”

Gillian Cope from Huddersfield added: “After a week spent in Whitby, I felt compelled to speak out about the terrible access to the beach for dog owners. I challenge anyone involved in the decision to extend the dog free zone to get safely onto the beach with a toddler, a baby in a buggy and a dog. Oh and a picnic and a sun shade.”

The seasonal ban of dogs on Whitby’s West Cliff beach runs from May 1 through to September 30, with anyone breaching bans facing a hefty fine.

Harry Briggs, Scarborough Council environment, enforcement and contracts manager, said: “The proposal to extend the restricted area was put forward by the public and it seemed reasonable to give the full area in front of the chalets the same access status. The proposal, including access point details, was therefore included in our consultation exercise prior to us creating the new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).

"Over 85% of responses agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal at Whitby beach. It was therefore included in the draft PSPO and presented to the council’s Cabinet and then Full Council, which authorised the creation of the order. No appeals were lodged against the order in the formal appeals period.

"Subsequently a number of complaints have been received opposing the order. However we have also received positive comments about the expanded restriction. Restricting access is not something that is done lightly, which is why we try to get as many views as possible.

"Unfortunately the only comment specifically mentioning the Whitby restriction in our consultation exercise, which ran for eight weeks, was for an even greater area to be covered. This was not felt to be appropriate and would have disproportionally restricted access.”

The restrictions are set to be in place for three years, although the council has said it will consider an interim review.