A PETITION calling for dogs to be allowed on Southend all year round will be considered.

Despite hundreds of people signing a petition rolled out by Tory MP James Duddridge calling for a change, Southend Council insisted the rule will remain in place in order for the beaches to maintain their blue flag status.

The petition, which is in the process of being submitted to the council, has already received support from over 750 people who are in favour of bringing dogs back.

Mr Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: “Southend’s wonderful coastline should be accessible to everybody who works, visits or lives here. We are a town of animal lovers and our pets are just as much part of the family as anybody else.

“Under current rules dogs are banned from all of Southend’s beaches between May 1st and September 30th. I do not believe these rules are fair on those who want to enjoy the coastline with their dogs all year round.

“Therefore, I am calling on Southend Council to relax the current summer ban and permit dogs on part of the beach.”

Councillor Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “Southend attracts many millions of visitors a year, with our blue flag and seaside award winning beaches being a key attraction. It is therefore vital that they are clean, well looked after, and safe for all - particularly children.

“A pet ban is required to gain blue flag status and the Environment Agency also advise that dog poo should never be left on beaches to be washed away by the tide as it contains high levels of bacteria that can affect bathing water quality and pose a risk to public health. It’s for these reasons that a dog ban is in place. This does not apply to assistance dogs.

“Two Tree Island is not included within the exclusion zone. Southend also boasts more than 80 parks and open spaces where dogs can be exercised freely all year round and under the council’s dog control orders.

“However, we do understand that there are a number of views on both sides regarding this, and although we have not received a petition yet, if one is received then the council will carefully consider it and any proposed ideas through our petitions scheme.”

Castle Point Council recently agreed a partial ban during certain parts of the year on certain beaches.