Dog exclusion zones on Sunderland beaches to remain as they are after thousands have their say

Rules surrounding walking dogs on beaches in Sunderland will remain as they are after councillors renewed the current order following a public consultation.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 4:47 pm
Dog exclusion zones on Sunderland beaches to remain as they are after councillors discussed a public condsultation.
Dog exclusion zones on Sunderland beaches to remain as they are after councillors discussed a public condsultation.

Sunderland residents were recently asked for their views on a proposed refresh of the citywide PSPO which aims to tackle issues such as nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

One part of the consultation looked at changing the rule around dog exclusion zones on parts of Sunderland’s beaches during the summer months, sparking a backlash from residents.

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People were asked to decide whether they would rather have dogs kept on leads at all times while on the beach, banned between 9am-6pm or to keep the current exclusion zones in place between May 1 and September 30.

The PSPO, including the ‘status quo’ option for dog exclusion zones, was given the green light at Tuesday’s (March 23) meeting of Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet.

Council chiefs also agreed to increase fines to the maximum allowed for offences under the PSPO, which range from street drinking to “spitting chewing gum” in public places.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of the council, told the cabinet meeting: “This report responds to the concerns of residents and partners in relation to a series of unwanted behaviours which have a negative impact on the lives of our residents and the city in general.

“It builds on previous PSPOs and includes additional matters of concern which have become more prominent since those last orders were made.

“I’m pleased to draw your attention to the fact that the proposed order clearly responds to the wider consultation outcomes and would ask you to note those areas where further work will be completed to define the areas of the city where these specific measures should apply.

“The PSPO affects all residents and this is generally positive in making the city a better place to live.”

According to a report prepared for cabinet, PSPOs are intended to “limit and restrict activities which cause nuisance or lead to problems for a community.”

The new citywide PSPO will be in place for a further three years and fines for breaches will increase from £75 to £100.

However, fixed penalty notices can be discounted to £75 if paid within 10 days.

The report to cabinet added further work is needed on some issues proposed in the PSPO, such as feeding birds, to define the areas of the city where restrictions should apply.

The PSPO rules can also be enforced by the police or other ‘authorised officers’ with restrictions covering a range of activities, including:

The consumption of alcohol in a public place, causing or likely to cause anti-social behaviour. Anti-social/nuisance behaviour linked to unauthorised street trading and peddling. Dog fouling. The use of psychoactive substances in a public place. Begging/ loitering. Anti-social use of skateboards, bicycles and stunt bicycles “causing damage to property or annoyance to other people in the area.” Urinating and defecating anywhere other than a public toilet “without reasonable excuse.” Spitting and discarding chewing gum in public places. Riding a motorcycle, moped or quad bike in an open public place including bridleways and footpaths. Searching and/or taking items from rubbish bins left to be disposed.

Cllr Miller noted thousands of people had responded to the PSPO consultation with a large majority, more than 90% in many cases, supporting the restrictions.

But he stressed the PSPO was aimed at a “minority” of people in the city.

The council leader added: “If [the minority] do not take into account that we all live in the same city and we need to look after eachother, and that includes our behaviours not upsetting anybody else, well you can do that but you run the risk now of being fined.

“And increasingly so, that is what our residents are telling us they want us to do and we must deliver what our residents want in this area.”

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