Weymouth wants changes to dog ban laws which would bring the resort in line with other areas in the county.

The town council is to ask the unitary council to amend the order to only ban dogs from beaches from May 1 to the end of September. The current order lasts from Good Friday until the end of October.

Current orders, across the county, are being extended for a year while a public consultation gets underway in January, lasting 12 weeks, about their future.

Cllr David Gray made a plea for the Dorset Council to vary the Weymouth order when it extends it at the point it expires next May.

He told a town council services committee meeting on Tuesday evening that local businesses claimed they were losing out on trade because of the ban. He said that the last time there was a public referendum on the issue 63 per cent in Weymouth voted against the longer ban.

He said more than 200 businesses were currently calling for a change to the dog-related Public Spaces Protection Orders to limit the ban period from May to September.

The committee heard that any changes would cost around £7,000 to amend signs, maps and leaflets at the beach and in the council’s parks and gardens.

But not all councillors were in favour of amending the orders. Cllrs Christine James and David Harris both said they had grandchildren who were wary of dogs.

Cllr James said she hated it when dogs jumped up at her grandchildren or urinated, or worse, on the sands where children were playing: “There are plenty of places where people can go and walk their dogs,” she said, suggesting that if dogs did have to continue using the beach the council ought to consider introducing dog toilet areas.

Cllr Harris said he found it remarkable that dogs could go almost everywhere, apart from fenced off play areas. He said he wanted to see an environment where children who were nervous of dogs could play freely, without fear.

Cllr Ken Whatley questioned why the current dog area, by the Pavilion, had been picked for pet owners to use: “I have always wondered why we let dogs use the best bit of the beach when other areas, such as by the Clock, are more suitable,” he said. He also suggested that a relaxation of the order ought to be considered early in the morning and later in the day when children were less likely to be around.

'Weymouth is most restricted beach for dogs in Dorset'

Dog orders have been contentious in Weymouth where many owners want greater and longer access to the beach, writes Sam Beamish.

Protests have been organised by dog owners unhappy about the rules and names have been added to a petition.

Town councillor Luke Wakeling claimed Weymouth Beach was 'the most restricted beach for dogs in Dorset' – and says the public hasn't had a say since the dog-related Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) was introduced in 2016, which extended the beach dog ban.

He had hoped the public would have a chance to have a say this year when the order was due to expire – but changes to orders have been postponed with the existing legislation remaining in force until any changes are introduced.

A public consultation will happen – but this will not be until January.

Cllr Wakeling said the extension of the beach dog ban was at odds with the public's view in the initial consultation.

He is unhappy that people are not being given a chance to have a say now on the existing order and impact it has has on local businesses.

A Dorset Council spokesman said “The original order was for three years and was due to expire in May this year. The council is proposing a temporary extension to allow the new Dorset Council time to introduce new orders across the whole council area. The council carefully considered views of dog owners and other residents who use public places before attempting to strike a balance and reach a good compromise. We will be asking for views again in January and hope we will receive a wide range of views."