A Beaches and Coast Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which includes the ability to issue fines up to £100, has seen hundreds of people ‘spoken to’ since it came into force on April 1.
The PSPO replaced previous beach byelaws and streamlined rules in an effort to make it easier for people to understand and help protect Thanet’s coastline and beaches.
Previous byelaws had differing levels of fines and did not include power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs). Under the PSPO, council and police officers can now issue the fines of £100 to help deter and reduce anti-social behaviour.
Under the rules people can be fined for activities such as camping in beach areas, releasing balloons and sky lanterns and drinking alcohol in public after being told to stop.
However, Thanet council says the aim is to deter nuisance behaviour with fines only issued to those who refuse to comply. Since April 1, 15 FPNs have been handed out to people who ignored the warnings. The PSPO is enforced by a team of three dedicated officers around the coast, who are supported by an additional eight security wardens.
New signs detailing the restrictions have been installed along the coastline.
Questions have previously been raised over whether there is enough enforcement action to make the plans effective with Barry Manners, from the Friends of Botany Bay and Kingsgate, previously branding the scheme “all flap and no propeller.”
However, Mr Manners said the current FPNs may not have been given out in ‘huge numbers’ but did show action was taken when people flouted the rules and then ignored warnings.
He added: “This does show that it is being tackled and 15 people paid the penalty for not heeding the warnings.”
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Recce Pugh said: “Encouraging people to behave responsibly is the driving force behind our new Public Spaces Protection Order. We want everyone who enjoys our nineteen miles of beautiful coastline to do so respectfully and protect the natural environment. And thankfully, most people do.
“The new PSPO has given us a clearer set of rules so people know what is acceptable and importantly what isn’t. Having the ability to issue a fine is often a powerful deterrent and this is designed to alter behaviour rather than being a tool to generate income.
“We have three dedicated officers around the coast, with an additional eight security wardens, who support this activity. Since the powers have been in place, our officers have spoken to hundreds of people on our beaches and public spaces. The principle aim has been to ensure that people know about the rules and to encourage them to rectify their behaviour, which in the main they do without challenge.
“Those who have been breaking rules have been warned and in some instances moved on. A fixed penalty notice would only be issued if someone refused to comply, which is generally not the case.
“Thankfully by reminding people of the rules and encouraging them to behave differently, most of the issues have been headed off before they have reached that point, with a total of 15 Fixed Penalty Notices issued to those failing to comply. The hope is that through our continued intervention people will rectify their behaviour which then helps ensure our open spaces are safe and enjoyable for everyone who chooses to use them.”
Those illegally or nuisance parking have also paid the price.
Between April 1 and July 5 Thanet council gave out 5708 parking charge notices. The increased enforcement comes after last year’s parking chaos in Botany Bay and Kingsgate with complaints from residents about blocked driveways and nuisance parking in residential streets.
The Beaches and Coast PSPO prohibits:
Parking/driving on the promenades or beaches without permission
Cycling on the promenades between 10am and 6pm from 1 May to 30 September where localised signage requires you to dismount
Bonfires, balloon and sky lantern releases on any council land
BBQ’s on council land apart from on beaches after 6pm
Horse riding on beaches or promenades between 9am and 7pm from 1 May to 30 September (or all year round at Pegwell Bay)
Encampments (including tents, campervans, marquees, yurts etc) on beaches, promenades, clifftops, nearby green spaces, car parks and surrounding areas of the public realm without prior consent of the council,with the exception of sun shades.
The use of personal powered watercraft (including jet skis) in a manner that poses a risk to the safety of people or wildlife
The use of personal powered watercraft(including jet skis) in a manner that has the potential to cause harassment, alarm and distress to any other beach or coast users, or residents
Preaching, lectures, music and entertainment or sporting events unless prior permission has been granted by the council
Urination, defecation, spitting or littering
Drinking alcohol in a public place, after being told not to
Ingesting, inhaling, injecting, smoking or otherwise using drugs or substances reasonably believed to be psychoactive substances
Possessing or releasing any canister containing compressed gas.
The Dog Public Spaces Protection Order has been extended to cover:
Pegwell Bay, specifically the upper chalk shore to protect endangered wildlife.
Humans and dogs interfering with, trapping or attempting to trap or snare or disturb any wildlife on council owned land.
There are no changes to the current restrictions on Westbrook Bay (dogs on lead between 10am and 6pm from 1 May to 30 September).