DORSET Council has agreed that dogs will now have to be kept on a lead on Lyme Regis’ main beach during winter.
The council’s Cabinet has approved recommendations about its dog-related restrictions in public spaces following months of debate and argument.
Under the new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), dogs will be excluded from the sand beach and Cobb Gate shingle beach in Lyme Regis between May 1 to September 30. However, they will now have to be kept on a lead outside period, having previously been allowed to run loose during the winter months.
The argument over whether dogs should be allowed on the town’s main beach has been one of the most hotly-debated local topics in recent years.
Lyme Regis Town Council pushed for an all-year-round ban of dogs from the sand and shingle beach. Their concerns came from a number of complaints about dog’s mess found on the beach and they were heightened following an incident in which a 12-year-old boy was bitten by a dog on the beach in December 2018.
However, a well-supported petition was launched against an all-year-round ban and Dorset Council has now rejected this proposal.
Other Lyme Regis beaches including Monmouth, Church Cliff and East Cliff beaches remain unaffected by the restrictions.
In Charmouth, dogs will not be restricted at all on East Beach (under Evans Cliff) but will be excluded from West Beach from May 1 to September 30, but can be off lead outside this period.
Dorset Council’s decision on the PSPO follows a public consultation that gathered views from residents, visitors, businesses and other organisations.
A total of 8,602 responses were received – 83% of responses were from local residents, with 15% from visitors and 2% other organisations, 64% of responses came from dog owners and 36% from non-dog owners, while 6.6% of the respondents considered they had a disability.
The new PSPO harmonises the exclusion period on specific beaches across the county, a suggestion which received significant support in the consultation.
Dogs will now also have to be kept on leads in public formal gardens, council-owned car parks and within five metres of marked sports pitches
Dorset Council said the reason for implementing a dog-related PSPO on specific beaches and open spaces was to keep them free from dog fouling and safe to use by residents and visitors.
It added that insisting dogs remain on leads in particular areas meant that owners would have adequate control over their dogs, and would be able to see if dogs foul or cause other issues.
Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset Council portfolio holder for Customer and Community Services said: “This has been an extensive consultation with a good cross section of people.
“I am very pleased that we have been able to implement the order according to the thoughts of most respondents.
“The harmonised exclusions on selected beaches across the council’s area is a sensible compromise for dog owners and those who don’t have dogs.”
Dorset Council hope that the new order will be enforceable by December 31 2020 but this is subject to six-week appeal period.