COMMENT: Give longer dog-walking season a chance

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You will not have failed to notice that beach-cleans are the current flavour of the month. Hardly a weekend passes without various bands of volunteers scouring our foreshores and filling bag after bag with rubbish – particularly plastics.

This trend, to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, was sparked a year ago by Sir David Attenborough’s ground-breaking Blue Planet II TV series, and its repercussions have been astounding.

With this campaign now indelibly stamped in people’s minds, there will be some who find it difficult to comprehend why Portsmouth City Council is seemingly encouraging the public to make the city’s beaches even more polluted.

For that will be the reaction in some quarters to the decision to allow dog owners to walk their pets on some of our beaches for longer each year.

In the history of local and regional newspapers such as The News, few subjects prompt more outraged reaction than dirty dogs and their irresponsible owners.

The filth on pavements is bad enough, but on the beach? That’s even worse.

But let’s look at this dispassionately. All the city council has done is bring Southsea’s and Old Portsmouth’s dog restrictions into line with most other resorts in the UK. In the areas subject to restrictions, dogs can now be exercised on the shingle and our little bit of sand for just one additional month a year. They will be banned from the end of April rather than the end of March.

When you consider that you can have a barbecue on the beach throughout the year, and leave that mess behind, will giving dog owners that additional month make the slightest difference? We think not.

The beach is an amenity for everyone and as long as dog owners clean up after their animals there is nothing wrong with this extension of the winter season.