Dogs to be banned from two popular Sidmouth recreation sites

Complaints have been raised about an 'increasing' problem with dog mess on the Ham

Complaints have been raised about an 'increasing' problem with dog mess on the Ham - Credit: Archant

Town council takes action in the wake of complaints and persistent problems with dog mess

A dog ban is to be imposed across two popular Sidmouth recreation fields in response to complaints about fouling and irresponsible owners.

Civic leaders this week heard that persistent problems with mess left on pitches and picnic areas paint the town ‘in a very bad light’ and voted through new restrictions for the Ham and Manstone Playing Field.

Some members called for a broader blanket ban during Monday’s town council meeting, saying children and families should be free to enjoy recreational spots without the fear of dogs or fouling.

Councillor Ian Barlow argued this would be a ‘draconian approach’ that could disadvantage many responsible dog owners and claimed the authority was in risk of ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’.

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Cllr Ian McKenzie-Edwards said he has received a number of complaints about dog mess and added: “Some people think it’s their God given right to let their dog go where it likes. There have been several incidents in Sidford where dog mess has to be cleared off the pitches before the match can go ahead.

“It puts Sidmouth in a very bad light.”

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Cllr Kelvin Dent made a plea for further restrictions on recreation spots, saying: “Young children – and adults as well – should be able to play free from dogs. Not everyone is a dog lover and if a dog bounds up to a child on a beach, even if the owner says he is friendly, it’s very difficult for young children to understand that.”

Cllr Simon Pollentine said the Ham in particular is a grassy area that people are encouraged to picnic and play on and – as a relatively small space – could reasonably be kept dog-free.

Concerns were raised about how the ban will be enforced – but town council chairman Jeff Turner argued this was not a reason not to create a law – and members agreed better signage is required.

As trustees of the Ham and Manstone sites, Sidmouth Town Council has the power to impose the ban which will apply to the grassy recreation areas only – so dog walkers are still able to use the paths around both fields.

The matter was raised as part of a consultation into proposals from East Devon District Council (EDDC) that would tighten controls on dog walkers across the region in a bid to encourage responsible ownership.

Under the new rules, dogs must be kept on leads on the highway and on footpaths next to roads to prevent loose animals posing a hazard to vehicles, cyclists and walkers. There is also a proposal to create a safer access point for dog walkers using the beach at Jacob’s Ladder, but town councillors voted through a request to maintain the status quo.

Speaking after the meeting, town clerk Chris Holland confirmed that the ban will be enforced by EDDC and the town council will be putting up new signs to notify dog walkers.

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