Tougher rules to protect the welfare of Blackpool’s beach donkeys have been adopted by the council – but it has still kept conditions such as that donkeys must have Fridays off and a lunch break.
The changes are due to the introduction of new national controls over the hiring out of horses including donkeys as part of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018.
It means the annual licence, costing £50, also covers the stables and places where the donkeys are kept for the first time.
But the regulations do not give owners the right to operate rides on the beach, so the council has had to come up with its own licensing system using a combination of Animal Welfare Licences and Street Trading Consents.
The approach was approved at a meeting of the council’s public protection sub-committee, but councillors were assured this did not mean Blackpool’s own donkey rules dating back nearly 80 years would be kicked out.
Licensing officer Ryan Ratcliffe said donkey owners “must meet the required standards” imposed by the new regulations, but the operating conditions set by the council “were the same as previously and have not changed since 1943.”
These include having Fridays off and a lunch break meaning “at 1pm all saddles must be loosened and all donkeys fed and watered”, according to longstanding town hall rules.
Although there have been some changes, with today’s donkeys microchipped to secure their identity.
It was also agreed to reduce the number of donkey pitches on the beach from 25 to 19, as demand had reduced.
The pitches are between North and South Pier, and are used on a rotation basis so all operators get a fair chance of using the more lucrative pitches.
Mr Ratcliffe said: “We want to keep the rotation policy so all donkey owners get the more lucrative pitches which are in the central beach area.
“Each day they move down a pitch so they all get a share of the best pitches.”