Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Dogs win reprieve as decision over beach ban delayed

The dogs of Portrush may have won a reprieve for the summer.

The decision by Coleraine Borough Council over whether to ban dogs from the resort's West Strand may have to be put back to September – such has been the huge public response to the plan.

Last week, hundreds of dogs and their owners converged on the beach in a 'Barking Mad' protest over the proposed Dogs Order.

Willie Gregg of the Harbour Bar, who organised the protest, estimates that 1,200 people braved rain on Sunday to gather on the beach along with 1,400 dogs.

"The walk was a resounding success. There have never been as many people on the West Strand at one time that I can remember," he said. "One of the things that really touched us was the number of families that came and made a day of it.

"All the dogs behaved – there was no mess, no rows, we didn't have to get crowd control and the police checked my Parades Commission certificate."

Mr Gregg said he had heard that the decision may not be made now until September.

"This summer, the dogs will be allowed to walk on the beach. But I wouldn't like to be blase about this – once this goes back to the committee, heaven knows what they are going to do," he said.

"What they have to do is make the irresponsible dog owners not only lift their mess from the beaches, but also the footpaths, the car parks, the grass verges."

Coleraine Borough Council has issued a consultation on plans to ban dogs from West Strand Beach in Portrush and restrict access on a number of public spaces.

Last night, the council said there has been no delay in the consultation process.

"The consultation is not closed yet. However due to the volume of response it may be a few weeks before we can provide a statement," a spokesman said.

Councillor Adrian McQuillan said: "It could be September before a decision is made because of the amount of consultees that have been returned."

factfile

• Newtownabbey: stopped plan to keep dogs on leads

• Larne: backtracked on plans for beaches curfew

• North Down: did plan to restrict dogs in areas

• Belfast: plans limits on dog numbers walked at once.

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