A BLIND holidaymaker claims he was thrown off a Torbay beach after being accused of flouting a dog ban with his guide dog.
Registered blind and partially-sighted Joe Loughrey, 48, from Nottingham, was with his guide dog Vida (pictured).
The five-year-old black Labrador cross Retriever was off the lead on Oddicombe beach when he says he was asked to leave by a member of the beach team.
By the time Joe had found his way off the beach, he returned to his car to find a parking ticket.
Torbay Council has launched an investigation into his claims.
Joe said: "I felt so unwelcome. I thought resorts like this want to encourage visitors."
A dog ban operates during summer months on some Bay beaches but guide dogs are allowed.
Joe and his wife, Angela, had planned a week-long stay in the resort, but instead packed up for a holiday in the Isle of Wight after the beach incident.
He said: "I have been sitting on the beach today and Vida has been able to swim to her heart's content. After all, it's her holiday too."
Joe, a civil servant and disabled rights campaigner, said he had visited the Visit South Devon website to be sure guide dogs were allowed on the beaches.
He said he had walked to the far end of the beach which was totally empty when he let Vida off to exercise.
But as they returned across the beach, he says he was approached by a member of the beach team and told dogs were not allowed. Joe said: "I apologised and put the guide dog back on her lead with the luminous 'Guide Dog' flash but the beach patrol worker again insisted I left the beach."
Joe said they spent over an hour trying to get back to the car by another route.
After one day of their holiday in Torquay, Joe and his family cancelled their break and booked a week on the Isle of Wight.
Joe said: "Torquay was supposed to be a trip back in time and it was. It felt like France in World War Two. We will never be back."
A spokesman for the Torbay Council's residents' and visitor services team, said: "Working guide dogs are welcomed on all Torbay beaches. However, it appears in this instance the guide dog was off the lead and therefore not 'working' for its owner.
"Torbay Council is committed to providing accessible facilities for people of all abilities and due to our thorough training we consider it highly unlikely a member of our staff would have said no guide dogs are allowed on the beach even on a lead. However, we will investigate this with the members of staff on duty that day."
She added all motorists are responsible for ensuring adequate payment is made for the length of stay.
She said: "It is our aim to provide excellent facilities for visitors to Torbay and we are pleased that the English Riviera visitor survey shows visitor satisfaction achieved a high average score above 4.00 out of 5.00."