DOGS will be banned from running free on Canvey’s beaches... despite concerns being raised over enforcement and a “small” consultation.

And owners who flout the new rules will be handed a fine of up to £150.

Councillors officially approved plans on Tuesday night which will mean dogs must be kept on leashes on beaches between April 1 and September 30 every summer.

An online consultation earlier this year saw 153 people state supporting for the move, with 132 against.

But a previous consultation, in 2018, saw less support, with just 11 per cent of 731 responses supporting a total beach ban - although this consultation had no reference of dogs on leads.

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party said: “I think the big problem that you have here to start with is we are taking a big step.

“I find it hard, if this was a huge great survey you had done then great, but you are talking about an online poll of 285 people, out of 40,000 residents.

“I think the council is in grave danger of making a decision without really doing a bit more homework on what residents actually want.

“I just think its unenforceable as well.

“Someone is walking along the beach and they have eight dogs with them, or there is more than one walker, who gets the fine?

“I just think we should take a step back and do some more homework.”

And with plenty of dog lovers living on the island, residents are also far from convinced.

Joan Thomas, 56, of Long Road, said: “It is a shame really. I own two spaniels and I know a lot of people who walk their dogs on that beach and it’s a great sight early in the morning when they all run free.

“This has been building for a couple of years, and there is a clear reason why: too many dog owners aren’t picking up their mess and have their dogs a bit out of control.

“The consultation seemed much smaller than last year’s, and less advertised, but you can’t overly argue.”

A public space protection order will be used to enforce the rule change, while signs will also be installed.

People breaking the new rule will be fined, up to £150, and criminal proceedings can be sought if offenders do not cough up cash.

It is estimated that one full time and one part time enforcement officer required for the order would cost £41,000 per year, with £15,000 set up costs.

Protection orders last around three years but can be extended.