Whitby dog-lovers victorious over council in dog ban row

Whitby dog-walkers have scored a victory over the Borough Council
Whitby dog-walkers have scored a victory over the Borough Council

Dog-walkers in Whitby have scored a victory over Scarborough Council as the authority revealed it is set to back down over changes to its controversial dog ban policy.

Changes to the seasonal restrictions on Whitby’s beach had angered dog owners, who said they had been left trying to access the permitted areas via a dangerous set of steps.

An online campaign was started by those angry at the changes and one Whitby borough councillor, Labour’s Rob Barnett, said the new restriction was “ill thought out, unwarranted and puts public safety at risk”.

Following a consultation, the council has now revealed it is set to revert back to the restricted area it used in 2017 in order to address the concerns of residents.

A host of other tweaks and changes to areas included in the Public Space Protection Order in Scarborough and Whitby will also be made after further public feedback.

In total, 1,249 people replied to the second consultation, compared to 314 for the first.

A report by the council’s Environmental Enforcement and Contracts manager Harry Briggs, which will go before the authority’s overview and scrutiny board on Wednesday (31st), noted that while there was not total opposition to the extension of the ban on Whitby beach it was strong enough to warrant reverting back to the previous area.

He wrote: “The expansion of the seasonal dog exclusion zone on Whitby beach for the 2018 season was a key area of concern for the public, it was originally proposed to standardise the entire area in front of the beach chalets at Whitby.

“A large number of dog owners raised concerns that the access points at the extent of the enlarged area presented them with difficulties.

Improvements were made to the steps but officers and the portfolio holder [Cllr Bill Chatt] felt that the strength of feeling was strong enough for us to visit this issue again.

“Consultees were asked if they agreed with the 2018 expanded beach ban area, the majority did not agree with this decision. Of the 69.5% who disagreed, 95.8% believe that the area should be reduced.

“The consultation exercise demonstrates that there is strong feeling on both sides of this particular issue, unfortunately striking a consensus is unlikely to be achieved and some will invariably be disappointed. The matter was referred to and rejected by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, who found no evidence of fault on the council’s actions in implementing the order or the consultation.

“Reviewing the latest results shows that the dominant view is to remove the restriction; it is therefore recommended that we reduce the area covered by a seasonal exclusion, effectively reinstating the 2017 restriction for the beach area.”

Other changes include the year-round dogs on leads requirement at Scarborough’s North Bay promenade will become a seasonal restriction.

An all year dogs on leads restriction on a 250m stretch of Scarborough’s South Bay beach in front of the Spa will be scrapped as the areas either side have no such condition imposed.

Dogs on lead restrictions at Kingfisher Drive and Marton Court in Whitby and Merryweather Gardens and St Martin’s Square in Scarborough are also proposed to be dropped as part of the changes.

After being debated by the overview and scrutiny board the changes will go before the council’s cabinet next month.