An ‘alcohol ban’ for Exmouth could be extended to cover the town’s main beaches if backed by councillors next week.
An 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. It allows officers to issue fixed penalty notices to those who don’t comply.
But the current order does not cover Exmouth beach, which has seen incidents of alcohol- fuelled antisocial behaviour over the past year.
And with the demand for staycations this summer set to rise, East Devon District Council is expecting to see a likely increased level of alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour linked to the beach area.
As a result, the council’s cabinet are being recommended to carry out a 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 in place this summer.
In a report ahead of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday 12 May, council’s community safety coordinator David Whelan said there was a "significant disturbance" in June last year and issues continued "sporadically" over the summer with a "significant increase" in antisocial behaviour and littering.
He added: “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 antisocial behaviour was seen on Exmouth beach with littering, urination and defecation occurring where the use of toilets has been restricted.
“During this summer and the demand of the staycation, we are likely to see an increased level of alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour linked to the beach area.”
The proposed changes to the order would also see it cover the beach area from Sandy Bay via Orcombe Point, to past the coastguard lookout 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.
Mr Whelan added the council may receive challenges if people have concerns police will "routinely just seize their picnic drinks".
He said: “The police are going to need to be proportionate and sensitive around its enforcement, where it is linked as a precursor to antisocial behaviour occurring or as a result of antisocial behaviour.
"They'll need to use their discretion when to engage, when to educate, when to encourage and when there is a need to enforce.
“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.”
Credit: Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporter