DETERMINED campaigners are continuing their fight for a dog-friendly beach in Southend, despite council bosses putting the plan on the backburner. 

Council leaders say a “small majority” were in favour of creating an all-year-round dog friendly beach after holding a consultation, but they won’t yet commit without further research.

However, dog owners say they will keep pushing to bring pooches to Southend’s beaches all year round, as the animals are excluded from the shoreline from May to September.

Eleven beach locations were touted as potential locations for a dog-friendly beach, and the council said there was “no clear consensus on which specific area of the borough’s beach could be used.”

Southend Council is worried about dog fouling, dogs not being kept under control, and also limiting how many would be on the beach. Costs to maintain beaches are also a factor. 

Stephen Cummins, who launched a campaign in August for dog-friendly beaches, said: “While they’re saying they’re not giving us a beach right now, they might give us a beach in the future.

“I think that’s encouraging progress. I’m an optimist and an optimist is someone who makes things happen and I’m focused on making this happen.

“I see the positive which is that they are not saying no. They’re not definitely saying yes, but they’re not saying no either, so I think there is room for further negotiation and discussion.” 

Stephen has urged dog owners to keep campaigning to get the result they want. 
He believes it is positive news that the council is still open to the idea of the beach. 

He added: “I think we can make this happen. 

“If we have one half mile stretch out of approximately seven and a half mile beach I think that’s a reasonable compromise and that’s what I’m aiming for.”

James Duddridge, MP for Southend East and Rochford, previously launched a petition for a dog-friendly beach in Southend.

It reached almost 1,000 signatures before it was passed onto the council. 

He said: “I’m pleased that a majority of residents have backed the idea of a dog-friendly beach in Southend. 

“Other popular seaside towns are already doing it, and I think having a designated zone for responsible owners and their dogs to enjoy all year round would be a big boost and give Southend another positive selling point.” 

The life-saving crews at Southend’s RNLI have also revealed they’re behind the campaign.

However, the team warned of the dangers dogs can bring and how owners need to be alert.

A spokesman from Southend’s RNLI, added: “A dog-friendly beach is a great idea, but it relies on people acting responsibly.

“We understand dogs need their exercise, a lot of the crew have dogs, they are part of the family. But even on a dog-friendly beach, dogs should wear leads where appropriate.

“We saw a puppy stuck out in the mud between Chalkwell and Leigh in October after it ran from the beach. Dogs are known to chase seagulls. We would always urge owners to ring 999 instead of chasing their dogs into the water.”

Carole Mulroney, councillor in charge of the environment and planning, said: “The consultation responses were varied and whilst there was a small majority in favour of a dog-friendly beach, there were lots of concerns raised regarding dog fouling, dogs not being kept under control, and also limiting how many dogs would be on the beach at any one time.

“The council would also incur significant costs to maintain and enforce any area designated and we feel further consideration is needed on this particular matter.”