Television presenter writes to dog walker in support of efforts to oppose the suggesting of excluding dogs from Instow beach

Lucky and Bobby Bell pose for a picture at Instow. Picture: Jim BellLucky and Bobby Bell pose for a picture at Instow. Picture: Jim Bell

Television wildlife presenter Chris Packham has added his voice in support of the campaign to allow dogs on Instow beach.

Instow Parish Council has been looking at the idea of excluding dogs from the beach between Lane End Road and the Quay during the summer.

Chris, who presents the popular BBC Springwatch and Autumnwatch shows, has written to Joanne Bell of the Dog Walkers Alliance asking 'why are man's best friends so shunned and shut out by society'?

He says: "Its time for us to all grow up a bit, respect hygiene considerations but not allow stupid rules to ruin lives.

Television presenter Chris Packham with his dog Scratchy.Television presenter Chris Packham with his dog Scratchy.

"What you tell me about this beach suggests that since no-one will be swimming, paddling or sunbathing - indeed using it for anything other than walking, that it is the most suitable site to permit dog walking."

Yesterday (Friday) more than 100 dog walkers and their four-legged friends gathered on the beach in another show of solidarity.

A survey conducted by the parish council of Instow households has just ended.

It asks them if some form of control is required for dogs on Instow beach and if yes, what areas should be controlled, at what time of year and whether dogs should be kept on leads or excluded altogether.

Some of the dog walkers who gathered for a demonstration on Instow beach. Picture: Jim BellSome of the dog walkers who gathered for a demonstration on Instow beach. Picture: Jim Bell

The council has been considering the possibility of getting a control order from North Devon Council called a PSPO (public space protection order).

Mrs Bell told the Gazette: "If the parish council continue with this nonsense regarding a PSPO to restrict dogs on this beach against massive opposition, we intend mounting a legal challenge in court."

There was furious opposition in 2015 when it seemed a 'dog ban' might be on the cards, but the council said it would review the situation 18 months later.

In April this year the council's Beach Management Working Group suggested part of the beach could be a 'dog free zone'.

The Gazette has asked Instow Parish Council when the survey results will be announced and when the issue will go back before the council.

The full letter from Chris Packham

Dear Joanne - Is the UK the most 'doggist' country in Europe ? Why are mans best friend so shunned and shut out by society?

Why when eight million people share their lives with dogs are we forced to leave them at home, in our cars or tied up outside shops? When did all this nonsense start? Why are we taking it sitting down?

Let me be very clear - there are many parts of the countryside where our dogs are an absolute nuisance - worrying or attacking farm stock, fouling recreational areas or disturbing ground nesting birds in the breeding season, worse, on nature reserves.

But in places where no such nuisance can result then we should have the ability to responsibly exercise ourselves and our dogs .

Pooping and scooping is mandatory - there is no excuse to leave dog faeces behind. Pick it up and bin it.

Put bins on the beach - its that simple, dogs are our companions, our friends, and to may people every bit as important as any human counterparts.

Would I leave my child in the car or tied up outside a shop? No, so I'm not leaving my dog there.

Its time for us to all grow up a bit, respect hygiene considerations but not allow stupid rules to ruin lives.

What you tell me about this beach suggests that since no-one will be swimming, paddling or sunbathing, indeed using it for anything other than walking, that it is the most suitable site to permit dog walking - particularly as the owner himself agrees!

Councils should recognise democracy, not crave to implement their own powers - that's the problem with humans.

Maybe vote for some dogs next time! Poodles of course!

Chris Packham