We are not dog haters – that was the message from Blackpool’s Labour group as controversial proposed changes to dog control orders prompted a heated council debate.
The resort’s Tories have launched an online petition in response to the Labour-controlled council’s consultation into plans to update rules over where dogs can be walked.
A new public spaces protection order would reinforce existing restrictions but also includes five new areas where dogs must be kept on a lead, if it is approved.
Blackpool Council’s deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell told a full meeting of the council: “We appear to be the dog hating Labour party – we are not.
“What we are doing is we are consulting with people to ask their opinions. It is changing from dog control orders to public space protection orders and what we are doing is a legal requirement.”
In response to Conservative proposals to remove limits to when dogs can be taken onto the beaches, Coun Campbell said the current restrictions were seasonal.
She said: “For seven months of the year, dogs can go on four of Blackpool’s seven miles of beaches. For the rest of the year they can use it all.”
But Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said there were already 29 restrictions regarding where dogs had to be kept on leads, and it was proposed to add five more.
He said there was “no evidence to merit the increase in dog exclusion areas” and said dogs were “family members who through your proposals are being denied their freedom”.
Coun Paul Galley called for the council to work with responsible dog owners.
He said: “Where you hit them with a big stick and say we will ban you from this place, you tend to get a huge amount of problems.”
Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn accused the Conservatives of “winding up” dog owners.
He said the process was a legal requirement because legislation was changing from dog control orders to public space protection orders.
He said: “There are two ways to go with this. One is to wind them up and the other is consultation.
“The consultation will end on September 25 and then a decision will be made.”