Sunderland dog owner’s joy as her online petition helps stop changes to rules for pets on the city’s beaches
A dog owner from Silksworth whose online petition received over 4,000 signatures opposing restrictions surrounding dogs on the city’s beaches has expressed her delight as the council decides to maintain the status quo.
Paula Smith from Silksworth set up an online petition after opposition grew to Sunderland City Council’s Public Spaces Protection Orders consultation surrounding the rules on dogs being allowed on the city’s beaches between May 30 and September 1.
Originally the options were dogs can be on the beach at all times but must remain on a lead or dogs were excluded from the city’s beaches between the hours of 9am and 6pm but had total freedom outside of those hours.
Paula’s petition gained over 4,000 signatures which prompted the council to add the third option of keeping the current exclusion zones in place between May 1 and September 30 and extended the consultation deadline.
More than 6,700 people took part in the consultation, with around 92% voting to keep the rules the same and this week, Sunderland City Council approved the decision to maintain the status quo with increased signage.
Paula told the Echo that she was “over the moon” when she heard the news.
The 40-year-old said: “The support that the petition received was just brilliant, all of the dog walkers that I’ve spoken to at the beach were all so keen for things to stay the same.
"I was just over the moon and pleasantly surprised when I heard that they council had decided to keep things the way that they are.”
"Sunderland City Council didn’t have to listen to us but I am pleased that they have.”
The PSPO, including the ‘status quo’ option for dog exclusion zones, was given the green light at Tuesday’s (March 23) meeting of Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet.
Council chiefs also agreed to increase fines to the maximum allowed for offences under the PSPO, which range from street drinking to “spitting chewing gum” in public places.
The new citywide PSPO will be in place for a further three years and fines for breaches will increase from £75 to £100.
However, fixed penalty notices can be discounted to £75 if paid within 10 days.