THOUSANDS of people have signed a petition after proposals banning dogs on a North-East beach during daytimes over summer were revealed.

More than 2,500 have signed the petition urging Sunderland City Council to rethink its plans after launching a consultation on new restrictions for Roker and Seaburn Beach.

The person behind the petition has argued such a ban would have a "big impact" on local businesses, while those signing it have warned of the wider repercussions. 

The council is asking residents to choose whether dogs should be required to be on a lead at all times or excluded between 9am and 6pm, when on the beaches.

The proposals, which would involve a change to its Public Space Protection Order, say that such restrictions would be in place from May 1 until September 30. 

But launching the petition, Paula Smith warned there is already a proportion of Seaburn beach that does not allow dogs and warned of a negative impact on businesses.

In her campaign, she says: "Allow dogs on sunderland beaches over the summer.

"There is already a proportion of seaburn beach that does not allow dogs on.

"Not only will it have a big impact on local business as when out with our dogs we may grab a coffee and food.

"People exercise a lot more down the beach with dogs."

In response, dog owners hit back at proposals.

One said: "Our dogs need exercise and should be able to enjoy the sea too. There is enough beaches in Seaburn and Roger to share and to make some dog friendly and some not."

Meanwhile another said: "The beach is one of the few areas where dogs can be allowed off lead. This freedom to fully exercise is important for mental, emotional and physical health in dogs."

According to Sunderland Council's website, there are currently two parts of Seaburn and Roker beach where dogs are not permitted - see here.

If restrictions are approved, those who flout a 'dog control order' could be taken to court and fined up to £1,000.

As an alternative, a person who flouts the rules could be given an opportunity to pay a fixed penalty notice of £80.

The council's website states that it promotes responsible dog ownership in the city and introduced dog control orders under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

It states: "The council receives frequent reports relating to dog fouling and nuisance dogs and understands that community facilities and areas can be blighted if dogs are not controlled adequately.

"Although we currently have powers to prosecute for dog fouling in specified areas across the city, dog control orders will help us to tackle a wider variety of dog nuisances according to requirements in specific areas while providing clear guidance to responsible dog owners within our parks and open spaces."