WIRRAL dog owners are fighting back against ideas to turn New Brighton into the borough’s first “dog free beach”.

Close to 600 people have signed an online petition calling on the council to avoid imposing a ban - which is part of a number of policies discussed by Wallasey constituency committee aimed at improving the area around the seaside resort following an increase in visitor numbers.

The committee discussed introducing the ban to “help deal with irresponsible dog ownership and provide a more comfortable space for families to enjoy”.

A consultation would have to take place before a formal proposal is made but if introduced, pooches could be banned during summer months.

But campaigners – who have set up a Facebook page in opposition to a ban – say it is not dog owners but irresponsible people who leave the beach in a litter-strewn state.

Jude Hanson, who created the Allow Dogs on New Brighton Beach Facebook Page – which has more than 400 members – told the Globe: “We feel the majority of dog owners do clear up after their pets and that the huge amount of litter is being left by humans.

“They have a large amount of people who volunteer to pick up rubbish left including bottles, dirty nappies and food wrappers.

“We have had huge support from the public and it would be such a shame to stop dogs from going on the beach.”

In the online petition - which has gained 596 signatures – Jude writes: “Dog walkers are polite, friendly, responsible and are often witnessed picking up wither washed-up or discarded litter as well as their dog poop

“The majority of dog owners improve their local environment not ruining it as constantly observed with visitors during holidays and weekends.”

Campaigners say a management strategy focusing on dog fouling and litter fines seems “more sensible”.

Figures obtained by the Globe through a Freedom of Information request show that 447 £50 fixed penalty notices were issued during 2012/13 to 2013/14. Of those, 443 fines have been paid.

While the constituency committee sought permission to carry out a consultation on a Dog Control Order, a spokesman for Wirral Council said it “does not have the power” to do so.

The spokesman said: “Applications to designate dog free areas are required to go through due process and public consultation in line with the requirements of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

“The constituency committee does not have the power to approve such applications however the report does ask the committee to consider providing funding for consultation and signage if such a designation was granted by the council.”

Campaigners will meet at Fort Perch Rock at 4pm on August 30 to raise awareness of their plight.

For more information, search for Allow Dogs on New Brighton Beach Wirral on Facebook.

To sign the petition, click here.