NEW regulations for dogs on Lyme Regis beach will come into force tomorrow (January 1).
Under Dorset Council’s new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) coming into force on New Year’s Day, dogs will be excluded from the sand beach and Cobb Gate shingle beach in Lyme Regis between May 1 to September 30.
However, in a change to previous rules, they will now have to be kept on a lead on these beaches outside this period, having previously been allowed to run loose during the winter months.
The order replaces a number of existing dog related PSPOs across the Dorset Council area.
The intention is that the new order will provide clarity and consistency across the area for dog owners and non-owners alike about dog controls on public open spaces such as beaches, sports fields and other public areas.
For the first few weeks the council will focus on advice and guidance to dog-owners explaining the new rules.
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 following a number of concerns about health and safety issues.
A well-supported petition was launched against this and, following public consultation, Dorset Council rejected the proposal for an all-year-round ban and agreed that keeping dogs on leads during the winter months was a fair compromise.
Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset Council portfolio holder for Customer and Community Services, said: “The order has been made to protect the health of Dorset residents and visitors and is particularly aimed at areas that children and families use.
“It focuses on times and places that attract families, but leaves a variety of open spaces, countryside and beaches where there aren’t any restrictions.
“It is a compromise, and as such, won’t be everyone’s ideal situation but it provides a balance for dog owners and non-owners.”
However, the ‘Lyme Regis’s Loving Dog Owners, Visitors & Friends’ Facebook group is asking the council to enforce laws already in place regarding dog ownership, rather than the PSPO, which they say will “ensure loving dog owners are not unfairly penalised by only targeting those who break the law”.
They are planning to present a 9,000-strong petition to Dorset Council asking for restrictions not to be imposed using the new PSPO.
The group’s founder Debbie Conibere said: “The simple solution is to look at the example being set by North Devon Council who are enforcing the current laws surrounding dog ownership, only targeting those who break the laws, instead of using the PSPO to blanket ban all dog owners which discriminates against those loving dog owners who keep their dogs under control, pick up fouling and many of whom pick up litter and keep the beaches safe for all to use.”