Instow Parish Council says two thirds of residents surveyed want measures to control dogs on Instow beach

A seasonal ban on dogs on parts of Instow beach could be a step closer.

Following a survey of residents, Instow Parish Council has said it will be looking at practical measures to control dogs on the beach.

The row has divided opinion, with campaigners such as the Dog Walkers Alliance group saying a beach which continually fails water quality testing is not fit for families.

The council released the results of its survey at a meeting on Thursday last week and said it had received valid responses from 335 people - 52 per cent of the electorate.

Instow Parish Council is to look at restricting dogs on parts of Instow beach. Picture: Tony GussinInstow Parish Council is to look at restricting dogs on parts of Instow beach. Picture: Tony Gussin

It said 247 had replied 'yes' to the question 'Do you think some form of control is required for dogs on Instow beach'? A total of 88 said no.

In a statement the council said: "The purpose of the survey was to provide guidance to the parish council in formulating a policy on dogs on the beach and to establish whether there is public support for introducing dog controls.

"It can be seen that the answer to this question is decisive, with almost three quarters of those responding being in favour of dog controls."

The survey found that 65 per cent of those responding wanted dogs to be excluded from the chosen section of the beach during the chosen period (as distinct from dogs being kept on leads).

While almost all wanted the controlled area to include the main beach (from the Quay to Lane End Road).

Most wanted controls to be imposed during the summer from May 1 to September 30.

The favoured means to enforce the restrictions is a PSPO (public open spaces protection order) and the council will be sending the survey findings to North Devon Council, which would be responsible for creating the order.

It said it would also 'consult with Christie Estates on practical measures that may be taken to control dogs on the beach'.

But Jim Bell, chairman of the Dog Walkers Alliance, said he considered the survey to be 'completely flawed'.

He said: "It's obvious that the survey is prejudicial; not carried out by an independent body and in fact when questioned, the clerk stated that they could not afford an 'independent survey'.

"There's been no consultation with the business community or those who actually use the beach. What is far more worrying to many of us - is that we believe IPC is attempting to minimise the clearly documented health risks regarding this beach in order to persuade NDC to introduce a completely unnecessary PSPO.

"We believe there are other ways to improve the beach experience - but IPC is refusing to listen because they only want to secure dog restrictions."