Seaside byelaws in the spotlight as council launches review

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With just over 14 miles of coastline attracting hundreds of thousands of people every year, ensuring everyone has a great time and stays safe is a key priority.

That is the driving force behind Canterbury City Council’s review of seaside byelaws, which is now underway, and councillors want to hear the public’s views on how the byelaws work.

The council is responsible for two byelaws which regulate activity along the coastline – ‘seaside pleasure boats’ and public bathing which affects those who swim in the sea.

Chairman of the council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “The aim of the byelaws is to balance safety with everyone’s desire to have a really enjoyable time. The rules help swimmers and people in fishing boats, speed boats and jet skis get the most out of the district’s coast at the same time.

“Our byelaws were last reviewed in 1995 and life has changed considerably. So it’s right we review them and ask members of the public for their views.”

The byelaws identify areas with and without speed limits for sea-going craft and provide controlled spaces for swimmers and seaside pleasure boats. They are enforced through the magistrates’ court and breaching them can result in a fine.

The consultation also asks for views on transit lanes, how the byelaws should be enforced and the possibility of charging for the use of launch ramps in the future.

This is also an opportunity for residents and beach users to have their say on other issues that might spoil their enjoyment, including glass bottles on the beach, the lighting of fires and use of drones.

Dogs on the beach and general anti-social behaviour are not included in this consultation after the recent implementation of Public Spaces Protection Orders.

Residents, businesses and everyone who enjoys the coastline can have their say by completing the questionnaire by 5pm on Sunday 1 September. 

The results will be considered by councillors in the autumn and, if they agree to any changes, the council would ask the Secretary of State to amend the byelaws. Changes would then take effect from April 2020.