Sidmouth dog ban sign destroyed in arson attack

The dog ban sign, destroyed by arson. Picture: East Devon District Council

The dog ban sign, destroyed by arson. Picture: East Devon District Council - Credit: Archant

Arsonists have destroyed a dog ban sign on Sidmouth’s Jacob’s Ladder beach.

East Devon District Council discovered on Wednesday morning (May 6) that the notice, informing dog walkers of the end of the dog exclusion area, had been set alight.

The council has described the actions of the culprit as ‘an act of arson’ and confirmed that it has reported the incident to the police and would be supporting a prosecution.

A spokesman said: “It is deeply disappointing and frustrating that during the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, someone thought that setting fire to our sign marking the end of the dog ban area at Jacob’s Ladder beach was the right way to express their opinion.

“By doing so they committed an act of arson, which is not only a criminal offence, but also an unacceptable piece of anti-social behaviour, which runs contrary to the outstanding community effort that everyone is contributing to at a time when we are all trying to keep pressure off our key local services, including Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue and Devon and Cornwall Police.

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“We take all acts of vandalism extremely seriously and, yes, regrettably we have had to report this to the police. If identified, the perpetrator will be prosecuted.

“We will replace the sign, but it should be noted that the cost for doing so, requiring both manpower and the actual sign, is ultimately at the expense of the public.”

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Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Beer and Seaton beaches all have dog exclusion areas, effective from May 1 to Sept 30.

A number of local residents had asked if the Public Space Protection Order could have been suspended during the coronavirus lockdown.

A council spokesman confirmed that while the request had been considered, the legislation does not permit suspensions of PSPOs, and anyway the beaches were very quiet during April when dogs were not banned.

They added: “The council also must consider the view of the many members of the public who like to come to the beaches without worrying about being bothered by dogs. Therefore, suspending this part of the order would have no effect, and would lead to confusion when the lockdown is relaxed or lifted.”

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