Town council continues fight to ban dogs from Lyme’s main beaches

This photo is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent dogs involved in specific incidents in Lyme Regis

THE Mayor of Lyme Regis has said the council has an “obligation to protect the public’s safety” as it continues its efforts to see dogs banned from the town’s main beaches all year round.

Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE called once again for a total ban on dogs from Lyme Regis’ sandy beach and Cobb Gate shingle beach at this week’s council meeting.

His comments came as town council members considered a draft consultation document from Dorset Council on its Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), which cover regulations regarding dogs in public spaces.

Following the introduction of a PSPO by the now defunct West Dorset District Council in October 2017, dogs are currently allowed on Lyme’s main sandy beach without a lead between October 1 and May 1. They previously had to be kept on leads at all times.

The PSPO, now enforced by the new Dorset Council, is due to expire on December 31 2020 and a public consultation will be held in the New Year to determine whether any changes should be made to it.

Lyme Regis Town Council objected to the PSPO when it was first introduced, with members arguing that dogs should be kept on leads, and a number of complaints from the public about dogs defecating, urinating and being out of control on the sandy beach have also been received.

Following an incident in which a 12-year-old boy was bitten by a dog on the beach in December 2018, further calls for reconsideration of the policy were made, as well as suggestions of a complete ban of dogs from the sandy beach.

However, the suggestion of a complete ban has proved controversial with some dog owners, who have said it is unfair to penalise well-behaved dogs and owners who clean up after their pets.

‘Discrimination’

A petition opposing the town council’s stance that dogs should be completely banned from the main beaches has been signed by more than 4,300 people.

The petition argues that a complete ban of dogs would be “discrimination” against the majority of responsible dog owners, and would have a negative effect on tourism in the winter and spring months.

The issue has also sparked some of the most vitriolic debates on local social media pages and has been described by the town council as “without doubt the most hotly debated issue in Lyme Regis”.

Speaking during the public forum at this week’s town council meeting, local resident Zoe Patrick offered her support of the town council’s stance.

She said that the situation regarding dogs on the beach had got worse in recent months; it often made it difficult to go swimming in the winter months as there was no dog-free beach, and was “stressful” for those with families and young children.

She also expressed concerns about toxocariasis, which can be found in dog faeces and has been known to cause child blindness.

Mrs Patrick said: “Just one incidence of a child getting an infection that leads to blindness is one too many.”

“We only have a small sandy beach and we need to keep it a clean and safe space to enjoy,” she added.

The mayor, Councillor Larcombe, said he completely agreed with Mrs Patrick’s concerns.

He pointed out that Monmouth Beach, Church Cliff Beach and East Cliff Beach could be used by dogs all year round, adding: “Dogs aren’t bothered which beach they’re walked on, this is more about the owners.”

“Its also about the public, and we have an obligation to protect the public’s safety.

“The pebble beach cannot be raked and if dogs are above the high water line it could be a problem, so the whole of the front beach should not be available to dogs on or off leads.”

Councillor Belinda Bawden opposed the mayor’s views, saying she thought dogs should be allowed on the beaches on leads during the winter months.

Councillor Kelsey Ellis also spoke in favour of this, saying that Monmouth, Church Cliff and East Cliff beaches did not provide good disabled access for those who wanted to walk their dogs.

She proposed that the council request dogs be allowed on the main beaches during the winter months on leads, but this motion failed with only Councillor Bawden supporting it.

The mayor proposed that the town council take all opportunities to oppose dogs being allowed on the sandy beach and Cobb Gate shingle beach all year round, which was agreed.

The council now plans to contact Dorset Council officers to discuss the best way to take this forward, as they felt the draft consultation document did not include options for a complete ban.

It was also agreed last week to look into the possibility of including a ban on dogs from the town’s cemetery in the PSPO.

Dorset Council will make all final decisions regarding the PSPOs and dogs on the beach with the public consultation to begin in the New Year.

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 2345 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

7 Comments

  1. Dear Town Councillors
    To protect the public health you may have to consider banning all parents with babies from the beach as well as dogs, as I have found a disturbing number of used nappies on the beach- very disgusting! Then all fireworks celebrating should be banned as I nearly stood on an old sparkler wire- 1 of hundreds left on the beach.
    Then also ban anyone having a drink on the beach as glass & plastic is harmful. Then possibly ban anyone thinking of swimming or sailing as there have been many deaths from these dangerous harmful activities. Thank you for being so concerned about public health….. if only more time could have been spent discussing how to recruit & train more doctors & nurses & to build some affordable housing which actually would help public health.

  2. Dear Town Councillors,
    I totally agree with Glenda Fraser. She has actually brought up more valid points than many of us had even thought of! My 2 main concerns are social isolation and loss of trade. Both are harder to control than picking up after a dog. Serious warning signs, carried out fines, photographic evidence from other dog owners, even a security camera, which could (a) enforce ANY crimes (b) make lazy people more responsible. Social isolation and disability are of massive relevance and also crucial to how the feel-good factor of a Town can sink.
    Perhaps the pebbly side adjoining the Sandy part could be banned. A lot easier to pick up from sand than pebbles. More visible (to everyone) and easier. We see many dogs on leads with winter visitors, you want them to go to Devon instead?! Bigger picture, dogs save many people from harm + loneliness and are vital as guide, service, help and pat dogs. They give love unconditionally,and both people of all ages + dogs deserve the joy, fresh air and company rather than watching TV alone. If they can afford the tv licence, or a dog … try sharing. It can make us ALL better people.

    • Its a case of the usual hotheads complaining. The chances of catching toxocariasis in the UK are virtually nil, – about a quarter of the chances of being hit by lightning. If you watch, most of the dogs run below the tide line. My main problem with my dog is the amount of food left behind. She dog nearly died when she ate a sandwich in a polythene bag dropped by children on the way to school. We have a job to walk up Broad Street because of dropped food. Of course if the dogs don’t eat it, then the rats will.
      When you see the dogs run on the beach you can tell how much they enjoy the exercise and the social meeting for them.I have asked many of the owners about coming to Lyme, they say its great for the dogs, but would have to find somewhere else if they cant come here.
      Why cant the complainers be identified?

  3. I fully support the council on a dog ban on the sandy beach.

    A few weekends ago I watch dogs run around the sandy beach as a few children also enjoyed the sand as it was such nice weather, dogs and children in the same space do not mix. Children should be allowed to play on one beach without fear of the dog faeces and wee in the sand. I am sad to say that many dog owners all seem to think that we should love their dogs as much as they do and do nothing when they jump up at you, bark or cause a nuisance, running wild across the beach.

    I challenged someone to pick up their dog’s mess on the beach last week to be told to “get a life”. Also the amount of dogs wee on the walls around the town is frankly disgusting and I am sure locals would not like it if my children wee’d against the walls and doorways but dogs seem to be OK!

    I understand that this is a contentious issue but can we really not just allow one area of the town for children to enjoy year-round as there is little sandy beach for them to enjoy. Nothing more enjoyable than sitting on the wall and watching children enjoying playing in the sand for a little inclusion, we demonise children quite enough already, let’s show them we care about them by giving just one safe place to play in the town.

  4. From the number of notices around the beaches banning just about everything that people enjoy. We could add another saying NO Smiling, or just NO!
    People still feed the seagulls (I’ve watched disabled people do it from their parked cars (want a photo). Children ride bikes and skate along the front, cigarettes butts are everywhere in the sand in the summer.
    Why is it all these people get away with it, but the dog owners warrant a warden?

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