MAN’s best friend could soon find out that life’s a beach, after proposals were put forward to ban dogs from Portobello seafront.
Irresponsible owners are being blamed for a series of complaints about dog-fouling and out-of-control animals on the beach.
A survey has now been launched looking for suggestions from the local community on how to tackle the problems, with many people suggesting the animals should be entirely banned from at least a section of the beach and promenade.
The idea that a section of the beach be made “dog-free” is one of several suggestions already put forward, including larger fines for owners not picking up after their dogs, and asking owners to keep dogs on the lead while on the promenade.
Geoff Lynn, 42, an IT consultant who lives in Portobello, said he was prompted to post the survey after seeing comments on the Porty People Facebook page.
He said: “We would like to stress that the majority of dog walkers in the area are extremely responsible, always clean up after their pets and keep them under control. What we want to do is open up some discussion about how much of a problem this actually is and what solutions we can find as a community.”
Online discussion about the problem on the Talk Porty has seen parents speaking about young children feeling intimidated by dogs being let off the lead and allowed to run around in these public areas.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The council takes the issue of dog fouling extremely seriously. Our environmental wardens are particularly focused on targeted dog fouling enforcement in Portobello, where we’re proud of the beach’s Resort Status award from Keep Scotland Beautiful.
“There are approximately 75 litter bins on the promenade which provide ample opportunity for people to dispose of any mess. We would encourage people to let us know where there are problems.”
Local Labour councillor Maureen Child said: “I have had some direct complaints about dog fouling on the beach, the promenade and the surrounding areas, and while the majority of dog owners are indeed responsible, I cannot condemn more strongly those who are not picking up after their dogs.”
Diana Cairns, joint-secretary of Portobello Community Council, added: “We have previously looked at the possibility of making part of the beach dog-free, but there is not legislation in place to enforce this.”
If you would like to take part in the survey, it can be found at www.askporty.co.uk
Mess menace under attack
Campaigners against dog mess in Leith have already taken an unusual approach to tackling the problem.
In November 2012, a project launched by Greener Leith, with funding from the council, allowed environmental wardens and members of the public to nominate local dog owners who were seen to be picking up after their pets.
Businesses in the area donated prizes, including cream teas, pet products and vouchers, to the scheme.
At the time, Councillor Gordon Munro, who represents Leith, said: “I’m in favour of anything that helps make Leith cleaner. Leith is bottom of the list in terms of environmental cleanliness in Edinburgh. We have to make use of any means at our disposal to try to change things.”
Three months on, Ally Tibbitt, a volunteer at Greener Leith who was involved in setting up the project, said: “It would be silly to say that the project solved the problem of dog-fouling overnight, but it has made people more aware.”
Paws for thought
THERE are currently no beaches in Scotland where dogs face an all out ban, though some do place restrictions on man’s best friend.
However, debate has been raging in the town of Newbiggin by the Sea, in Northumbria, for years now over whether to allow dogs on the local beach.
A blanket ban on dogs on the beach was introduced in March 2008 by Wansbeck District Council.
However, in June 2010, Northumberland County Council announced it was to review the decision of its predecessor, and in May 2011 decided to scale back the restrictions after receiving 3000 responses to a public consultation on the subject.