Kennel Club opposes dog restrictions on beach

dog on beachAN open letter to Dorset Council: We are writing to raise our concerns regarding access restrictions for dog owners at the front town beach in Lyme Regis, which came into force on January 1 2021.

As the leading national organisation on dog access, The Kennel Club regularly engages with local authorities on Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) to ensure that restrictions are both proportionate and evidence-based.

We believe that any dog controls introduced by local authorities should be the least restrictive possible to achieve a defined and measurable outcome, a principle which is also pursued by Natural England.

Having reviewed Dorset Council’s PSPO, we are concerned with the restrictions now in place at the front town beach in Lyme Regis.

Dog owners are required to provide their dogs with appropriate daily exercise, including regular opportunities to walk and run, as laid out in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs.

In most cases, this means off-lead while still under control. Beaches across Dorset have provide to be an important local resource for dog owners to ensure that their dogs get their required daily off-lead exercise.

As such, we believe that the new dogs-on-lead measure is neither appropriate not proportionate; we have heard from a number of concerned local residents who are unhappy that their dogs are no longer able to run, walk and explore the front town beach whilst off-lead.

We are disappointed that the council has, thus far, not provided those who live locally and those who travel into the area to use this important local resource an equal opportunity to have their concerns listened to, particularly given that the council’s consultation found 49.2 per cent of respondents are opposed to a dogs-on-lead measure.

With regard to the restriction excluding dogs from the beach between May 1 and September 30, feedback and anecdotal evidence that we have received suggested that many beaches are empty in both the early mornings and late evenings, a prime time for many owners to exercise their dogs.

The Kennel Club strongly believes that dog owners should be able to enjoy continued access to this beach during times of the day when the beach is little used, even in the busy season.

For example, Cornwall Council has successfully introduced measures which restrict dog access in the busy season between 10am and 6pm, including on a number of Blue Badge beaches and Seaside Award beaches, but allow dog walkers access outside of these hours.

We would strongly welcome a similar approach by Dorset Council, which would enable dog owners to continue to use front town beach in Lyme Regis throughout the year at little inconvenience to other beach users.

As well as this, following conversations with local residents, we know that dog owners are often playing an important role within the community.

For example, we are aware that a number of dog owners regularly pick up litter left by other beach users when walking along the beach with their dogs.

The Kennel Club educates and encourages dog owners to act responsibly and we believe that the vast majority of those accessing local beaches with their dogs are acting responsibly – such as by picking up litter – and should not be punished for the irresponsible behaviour of an inconsiderate few.

As such, we believe the council should instead pursue proactive measures to promote responsible dog ownership throughout the local area.

This could include increasing the number of bins available for dog owners to use, running responsible dog ownership and training events, or using poster campaigns to encourage good behaviour, including picking up after their dog.

Dr Edward Hayes
The Kennel Club

JOIN OUR MAILING LISTStay up to date with all the news from Lyme Regis, Uplyme & Charmouth by signing up to our regular newsletter.

View our privacy policy.

Donate to LymeOnline