Dogs banned from popular Somerset beach during summer

View of Minehead from the beach on Warren Road
View of Minehead from the beach on Warren Road -Credit:Daniel Mumby

The leader of Somerset Council has joked about "tattooing irresponsible dog owners" as his executive voted to ban dogs from a popular Somerset beach. Somerset Council launched a consultation in August 2023 over its plans to introduce new public space protection orders (PSPOs) to control dog fouling and restrict or prohibit dogs in certain public places.

Following feedback from residents in the former West Somerset area, new PSPOs will be introduced which ban dogs from a significant section of Minehead beach between May and September, as well as new restrictions at key public spaces nearby. Restrictions will remain in place on the beaches in Burnham-on-Sea after planned changes were deemed to be unpopular with local residents.

The new PSPOs came before the council's executive for approval in Taunton on Wednesday morning (May 8). Under the new proposals, from May to September dogs will be banned from Minehead Beach between the Jubilee café on the Esplanade and the groyne near Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club.

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However, dog walkers will still be able to access the beach between the café and the harbour area during the summer season. Dog exclusion zones will also be introduced at Blenheim Gardens and the Millenium Rose Garden off Seaward Way, following a substantial public backing for both proposals and negotiations with Minehead Town Council.

In Burnham-on-Sea, dogs will remain banned all year round between the jetty and the pavilion, and will be banned between May 1 and September on the other sections to the north (between the pavilion and Maddocks Slade) and to the south (between the jetty and the yacht club). Any dog owners allowing their dogs in restricted areas or failing to clean up after their pets could be fined up to £1,000.

Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts, portfolio holder for communities, housing and culture, said there had been a "phenomenal" response to the consultation, with more than 530 responses from within the former West Somerset area and more then 120 from the former Sedgemoor area. She said: "With Minehead Beach, we have come up with an approach which allows dogs in some areas and not in others, so that we can look to have families being segregated and free to play in some areas and dogs being free to roam in others."

Councillor Mandy Chilcott (who represents Minehead) added: "I think it's really great to have some clarity before we get into the full swing of the holiday season. Minehead's a lovely beach, and I absolutely feel that there is space for all there.

"I hope that what we see before us today will give space for everyone to enjoy the beach, and if families want to be in an area without dogs, then that is accommodated."

Council leader Bill Revans said it was difficult to please all residents and visitors to these locations. He joked: "I was listening to the coverage of this on the BBC Radio Somerset breakfast show the other day and it was suggested than we ban irresponsible dog owners. I'm not sure what they look like. If only we could tattoo irresponsible dog owners or something like that.

"It's already a tricksy one, having been both a dog owner and a parent to young children. It's about getting the balance right and I think we've got it here - but I'm sure there will be people who disagree with what we've got."

The PSPOs will be reviewed in 2027, and could be renewed for a further three years if the public approve. Councillor Dixie Darch, portfolio holder for climate change and the environment, said: "I was discussing this with some of my community members recently, and some of them just say ban dogs altogether (and their owners), while others go the other way.

Some people have walked on Burnham-on-Sea beach as part of their daily exercise
Dog owners should put the poo bags into a bin -Credit:Getty

"I think covid has prompted an increase in dog ownership, and there has been a rise in antisocial dog behaviour as well - though there are many responsible dog owners. "I'm not anti-dog, I do have a dog, but I also know the environmental impact that they have.

"We are never going to please everyone, and this feels like a fair way forward."