Exmouth beach may ban drinking this summer

A booze ban for Exmouth’s beaches may be backed by councillors next week.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

The existing Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which covers a number of central streets in Exmouth, bans consumption of alcohol, urination in public, aggressive requests for money, or intimidatory behaviour, and allows officers to issue fixed penalty notices to those who don’t comply.

But the current order doesn’t cover Exmouth beach, which has sporadically over the last year seen incidents of alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour, and with the demand of staycation this summer set to rise, East Devon District Council is expecting to see a likely increased level of alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour linked to the beach area.

As a result, the council’s cabinet, when they meet on Wednesday, May 12, are recommended to carry out public consultation on proposals to vary the existing order to also cover the beach.

At the end of the five week consultation, a further report will come back to the cabinet around whether there is support for and a need for the urgent implementation for the order to be amended to be in place for the summer period 2021 – a period where an increase in related anti-social behaviour problems can be anticipated due to the staycation.

David Whelan, the council’s community safety coordinator, in his report to the meeting, said: “In June 2020 on Exmouth Beach we saw a significant disturbance observed over a weekend exiting from Lockdown, these issues continued sporadically over that summer with a significant increase in anti-social behaviour and littering linked to the alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour. It was felt at the time this was likely to be an isolated occasion/period of time.

“This however reoccurred over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend when the ability for groups to meet was released. Again alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour was seen on Exmouth beach with littering, urination and defecation occurring where the use of toilets has been restricted.

“It is considered that during this summer and the demand of the Staycation we are likely to see an increased level of Alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour linked to the beach area.”

He added: “The PSPO is already in existence in a number of central streets in Exmouth and allows authorised officers to deal with individuals by way of fixed penalty notices. The proposal would be for a variation of the existing order in order to simplify understanding and enforcement of the PSPO.”

The proposed changes to the order would also see it cover the beach area from Sandy Bay via Orcombe Point, to past the coastguard look out station, past the Beach Gardens The Esplanade, The Maer, Queens Drive, and also round past the Sailing Club, Camperdown Yard and the Imperial recreation Ground, all the way to the half-moon field.

Map of proposed variance. Blue is the current PSPO, red is the considered area of the variance for the Exmouth PSPO

Map of proposed variance. Blue is the current PSPO, red is the considered area of the variance for the Exmouth PSPO

Mr Whelan added: “It can be anticipated that we may receive a number of challenges from the consultation if social media and press messaging is sensationalised that Exmouth has an alcohol ban in place for its beach. This will have normal members of the public airing their concerns that they will have police turning up and routinely just seizing their picnic drinks.

“The Police are going to need to be proportionate and sensitive around its enforcement, where it is linked as a precursor to anti-social behaviour. occurring or as a result of anti-social behaviour. occurring and use their discretion when to engage, when to educate, when to encourage and when there is a need to enforce.

“Consideration for inclusion of other coastal area’s for an anti-social behaviour.PSPO was discounted at an early stage, as there has been limited reporting of historic problems and the transport infrastructure does not give the same level of access to the other coastal towns

“A period of consultation would need to be undertaken but this period could be kept to a minimal timeframe of five weeks as other councils have done, early indications from Police and Exmouth Town clerks are they are supportive of the extension of the PSPO.”

The Cabinet are recommended to carry out public consultation on proposals to vary the Exmouth anti-social behaviour. Public Spaces Protection Order 2020 -2023, which could include addition of beach areas in Exmouth, as well as other locations identified as anticipated displacement, before any final decision would be taken later this year.