"THE MOST contentious issue ever to have come before St Ives Town Council" resulted in councillors calling for a ban on dogs on some of the town's most popular beaches last night.
A 24-hour seasonal ban on dogs on Porthminster, Porthmeor, Porthgwidden and Carbis Bay was recommended by the council's environment committee after a lengthy debate in the council chamber.
A daytime ban would be imposed on Harbour Beach in the summer months, while a recommendation that dogs should be kept on leads on the path leading to Porthkidney Sands was made. Bamaluz and Lambeth Walk would remain dog friendly beaches.
Cllr Terry Tonkin told councillors during the meeting last night that the issue of whether to ban dogs on beaches in the town was the most contentious he had come across since joining the council in 1974.
Cllr Andrew Mitchell said he was upset at the way in which the issue had divided the town and generated open hostility.
The council received almost 1,000 letters in response to its consultation on the issue, as well as a petition of nearly 4,000 signatures against a proposed banning order.
St Ives town clerk Louise Dowe said: "I have been quite surprised at the tone in some of the open forum meetings. The town council is trying to find a way to bring about something that is fair for everybody.
"It was never a referendum. It was quite indicative to see how many people said 'yes' or 'no' but a great amount of weight was put on the comments that came in."
Barbara Nolan, of St Ives Dog Owners' Group (DOG), said some members had walked out of the meeting in tears but the group would not be giving up.
"I think it is not what the consultation wanted but they seem to think that the consultation doesn't matter which is a bit perplexing because the consultation was completely against the proposals," she said.
"There was no block of complaints in the first place. The beaches have continued to get the best beach awards over the last five years. Clearly there is not a problem but that evidence was not put forward.
"Public opinion doesn't seem to count with a couple of the councillors. One thing is for certain – that we are not going to accept it. But we are going to wait to see what happens at the main council meeting."
The recommendations put forward by the environment committee last night were as follows:
- Porthminster, Porthmeor, Porthgwidden and Carbis Bay – 24-hour ban on dogs from the Sunday before Easter to the end of September.
- Harbour Beach – ban on dogs between 7am and 8pm from May to the end of September, with a possibility the ban may be extended to the Sunday before Easter
- Porthkidney Sands – dogs must be kept on leads on the path down to the beach, but dogs allowed on the beach
- Bamaluz and Lambeth Walk – dog friendly beaches at all times
The recommendations will now go before a full meeting of St Ives Town Council on November 7.