LETTER: New dog restrictions ‘the wrong decision’

dog on beachI BELONG to a local Facebook group ‘Lyme Regis’ Loving Dog Owners, Visitors and Friends’, which is an informative support group for local and non-local dog owners, walkers, sitters, etc.

The new council enforcements coming into effect as of Friday, January 1 2021 mean dogs can no longer be run off-lead on the main sandy beach by the Cobb in Lyme Regis.

Dog owners local and further afield feel that this decision is the wrong one and most feel they were ill-informed about this decision.

I recently emailed Dorset and Lyme Regis councils expressing my feelings and the feeling of others who exercise dogs on the beach. You can read my email and the reply from the council below.

I think I speak for other dog owners when I say this decision was made by the council without the involvement of any of its dog-owning residents.

The town council wanted a complete beach ban of all dogs but there was a well-supported petition and this never came to light.

However, the new enforcement laws have been made with little or no input from the very people it concerns and we all feel this isn’t good enough.

Open letter to Dorset and Lyme Regis councils:

We don’t live in Lyme we aren’t even from the area, we live in Wiltshire, but we visit Lyme in the holidays and every weekend.

You could say that whatever rules or enforcements the council suggest don’t concern us as we aren’t ‘locals’ and, to a degree, you would be right but in this case you are wrong; the decision to enforce the ruling of dogs on leads is a wrong one.

I know you have sat down and discussed the ‘dogs on the sandy beach problem’ and have no doubt tried to find a way to ban dogs completely from the beach and realised that would not happen.

However, the rule to keep dogs on a lead while on the beach is just as damaging. Have you really sat down and discussed this?

Below is a list of things I don’t think you have discussed at all; it’s a list of things you surely must have overlooked because I don’t think you knew about this and still made your decision.

  • Not welcome – what this rule says about the town – ‘dog haters’ if you own a dog you are not welcome
  • Economy – less people coming to the town will affect the area, its shops and businesses with a significant loss of income to them. There are more than 30 shops displaying ‘dog friendly’ stickers in their doors and windows in Lyme; these businesses are fully aware that lots of visitors to the area have dogs and in low season dog owners are sometimes the only ones visiting the town. These businesses rely on their trade. To dog owners, dogs are family and they go where we go.
  • COVD – there are already too many restrictions now you have added some more – not a great move.
  • Mental health – people are struggling at the moment; 2020 is like no year we have ever known and it’s a hard one, but if you can get out in the air and run your dog on a beach it makes things a little better helps you sleep at night.
  • Physical health – for some people (and dogs) a nice flat sandy beach is the only kind of beach they can exercise on. Have you tried walking on pebbles with arthritis in your hips or your hind legs? Have you even thought about this? Probably not because luckily for you, you’re healthy.
  • Litter – do you know that the dog owners, walkers, sitters, etc. that you are trying so hard to keep off the beach actually keep it looking as good as it does? They litter pick, they keep the place tidy, there’s even a Facebook page about it! They do it because its their beach too.

Like I mentioned, I’m not local but all the above things affect me. Lyme Regis is a town I love, a town I’ve been coming to since a child.

When these enforcements come into place in January, there really wouldn’t be much point in us coming to the town for a beach we can’t use but I’m lucky I don’t live in Lyme; I can go to Seaton, Sidmouth, Branscombe, Beer, Budleigh Salterton, Seatown, West Bay, etc. and spend my money there.

This doesn’t really affect me, I don’t live in your town.  Did you even think about the locals, the people that do live in Lyme? The ones without a car? The ones that can’t go to other beaches because they suffer mobility issues? Aren’t these the people that will effectively be paying for the policing of this new rule?

When you sat down to discuss this enforcement, are you saying you thought about all of this and still made the wrong decision?

I would like this complaint tabled on the agenda, to be circulated to all sitting councillors and be discussed at the your next council meeting and a vote to be held on whether the enforcement rule is to be maintained.

Mr and Mrs Green,

Response from Dorset Council:

I am sorry you feel aggrieved by the content of the order. However it has been through the democratic process.

Jane Williams
Team Leader (Environmental Protection – West)

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