I have read with interest the article in the latest Gazette entitled ‘Outrage at dog access to the beach’.
An alternative could be ‘Outrage at extension of dog ban risking public safety’ as it relates to the public safety aspects of the access to the beach and discrimination against the less abled.
The access to the beach is now down steps which are dangerous with a risk of serious accidents, unsafe for the able bodied let alone the disabled, the elderly and families with children.
The Scarborough Borough Council statement in the article is disingenuous and misleading and omits serious shortcomings in safeguarding public health.
Information has come to light after inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act.
On viewing the steps of the new boundary it would be reasonable to expect a risk assessment of the access which has not been undertaken to date.
It is worth looking at the consultation on ‘Public Space Protection Order Dog Restrictions’ covering the whole borough in more detail.
There were a total of 314 responses which with information from Freedom of Information Act the percentage gives us a figure of 35.5 individuals with Whitby addresses; 85% of the total number agreed or strongly agreed with proposals of the consultation as a whole.
It needs to be emphasised there was little in the way of detail about the extension on Whitby West beach and access.
It cannot be assumed that the 85% for the proposal as a whole across the borough would be in agreement specifically with the extension of the ban on the West Beach as there was little in the way of detail either in the text or the map and nothing about the access.
In conclusion there was insufficient information included for a valid consultation especially when it was stated that there were to be no major changes.
It is very clear however that the extension of the ban has resulted in a major change with serious consequences for safety, discrimination and fairness of access to beach facilities.
There are other serious concerns about how consultation process was brought to the attention of the public.
There are no records kept by Scarborough Borough Council as to which local press publications were used to for advertising this and it is also unclear if any interest groups representing the disabled were formally consulted.
Officer Harry Briggs and councillors were made aware of the issues on the first day of the dog ban (May 1) as they came to light.
Unfortunately little action has been taken to prevent a serious accident except for a structural engineer’s inspection and report which resulted in minor repairs to the handrail.
There have been minor accidents already and a few near misses on the steps.
This is not a polarised conflict between people who like dogs and those who do not, it is about consideration and accommodating safely other people’s needs including disabled, the elderly with dogs and the many families of children growing up with dogs.
There are already indications that visitors won’t be returning because of the added restrictions on West Beach.
Declared interests: I am a dog owner but also was a senior clinician in the NHS with responsibility for setting up safe accountable community services for high risk patients.
Dr Elaine Edmunds