A PETITION has been launched calling for rules to be relaxed about when dogs are allowed on Southsea beach.
Portsmouth City Council policy states animals aren’t allowed on that stretch of the seafront from March 1 until the end of September every year.
But the authority is now being called on to delay the ban period until May instead.
While dogs are allowed at the end of Eastney Beach and from Clarence Pier up to Old Portsmouth all year, campaigners feel the number of visitors on the main beach around March is low – so the change shouldn’t be an issue.
Linzi Kelly, owner of Southsea Rock, a gift shop in Marmion Road, Southsea, has started collecting people’s signatures in support of the move.
Linzi, who has two dogs, said: ‘We might be having some exceptionally warm weather at the moment, but the beach is still deserted.’
Linda Symes, a dog walker and member of the city’s Conservative group, is backing the petition.
She said: ‘It’s not a case of whether the current areas where dogs are allowed is sufficient enough.
‘You never see people sunbathing on the beach in March.
‘We have got some nice weather at the moment, but that’s not normally the case.’
In Poole, the ban applies to main beaches from May to September, and in Brighton, there are dog-friendly beaches between the same months.
Dogs are only allowed on sign-posted sections of beaches in Bournemouth during the summer.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council and Liberal Democrat group, said the current restrictions helped to protect the interests of children.
‘I have had someone contact me about this,’ he said.
‘We have some people who want to be able to walk their dogs on the beach throughout the year.
‘Then we have others who want them being banned forever because people let dogs off their lead and they perform, and people don’t want their kids playing on the beach and then get covered in dog mess.
‘We have two distinct groups of people who want the exact opposite of each other.
‘In the winter on the whole, people don’t want their kids on the beach, and so therefore it’s okay for dogs.
‘Kids not being covered in dog mess is really important.’