A controversial ‘ban’ on dogs from parts of Instow beach has been lifted after years of contention.
At its meeting on Thursday, September 19, Instow Parish Council voted unanimously to remove five contentious signs asking owners to keep dogs from the main seafront section of the beach during the summer months.
To prove the point, parish chairman Bob Allen joined Joanne Bell of the Dog Walkers Alliance to remove the signs along the seafront that had asked dog walkers to abide by a voluntary code of conduct.
A new parish council was installed following the elections in May and it has moved to end the acrimonious saga, which has rumbled on for several years.
The council said in a statement it was not possible to enforce the restrictions.
It said: "The signs controlling access to Instow sands for dog owners have been removed.
"It was not possible to enforce the restrictions, which served as an irritant to both dog owners and those without dogs.
"We trust all can use the beach together and ask gently that dogs are kept under control at all times."
The issue went into overdrive when the 'ban' was introduced in 2018, although it was in the form of a code of conduct that asked dog walkers to keep their pets off the areas between the Quay and Lane End Road form May 1 to September 30.
The code also asked people to take their litter home, bans bonfires and says motorised vehicles are not allowed on the beach unless authorised.
The council at the time cited a survey of parishioners it carried out which found that almost three quarters of those who responded were in favour of some sort of control over dogs on the beach.
Dog walkers reacted angrily, with several protests held on the beach and there was even a message of support from television presenter Chris Packham.
Mrs Bell said the change of heart was 'absolutely brilliant news'. She added: "All the dog walkers who regularly use this beach are really very pleased and I'd like to thank all those who have emailed me.
"We've also received a note from Chris Packham congratulating everyone on our current win! It really was great to have his support. There has been nothing but trouble over two summers since these signs were erected - which were supposed to be a voluntary code of conduct - but lone female dog walkers were targeted with abuse.
"I'm sure all the unpleasantness which has occurred will now end and I look forward to working with the new parish council to ensure the beach experience is a good one for everyone."