DORSET Council has launched its public consultation on regulations for dogs in public spaces, including on beaches.
The subject of dogs on beaches has become one of the most controversial topics in Lyme Regis in recent months.
Under the current Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), dogs are allowed on Lyme’s main sandy beach and Cobb Gate shingle beach without a lead between October 1 and May 1. They previously had to be kept on leads at all times in these areas.
Monmouth, Church Cliff and East Cliff beaches remain open to dogs off leads throughout the year.
Lyme Regis Town Council has pushed for more stringent regulations on the town’s main beaches, with members requesting a complete ban of dogs all year round on the sandy beach and Cobb Gate shingle beach.
A petition opposing the town council’s view has received 7,880 signatures to date, online and in print, with some arguing a ban on dogs would have a negative effect on tourism, local businesses and would discriminate against disabled dog owners who find it difficult to access other local beaches.
The subject has also caused some of the most heated and vitriolic debates seen on local social media pages.
However, the final decision whether or not to change the current PSPO is down to Dorset Council, not the town council, and a 12-week public consultation on the subject has now been launched.
A statement from Dorset Council said the consultation “will help with the development of the new Dorset-wide dog-related Public Spaces Protection Order”.
Lyme Regis councillors have argued that the policy should not be county-wide and each town should be considered individually.
Councillor Tony Alford, Dorset Council portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said: “These orders are to make sure that everyone – with or without dogs – can safely enjoy public spaces.
“We want to hear a wide range of views from as many people as possible. We know that people hold very strong views on the topic and we aim to reflect a balanced and fair perspective within the new order.”
The survey will run until midnight on April 19 2020 and can be found online at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/dogspspo
Paper copies of the survey can be obtained at any one of Dorset Council’s libraries. The survey can be made available in other formats and languages by calling 01305 252472.