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East Devon District councillors have resolved not to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to  address reported issues of antisocial behaviour involving the use of personal water craft at Belshers Slipway and Shelly Beach in Exmouth.

The decision was made in light of overwhelming local feedback received by the council in response to this consultation, which asked for the public’s views on how a PSPO would impact on their use and enjoyment of these highly popular areas of Exmouth.

At a meeting of the Council's Cabinet in January 2016, councillors were presented with a report, which highlighted the findings of this consultation which was requested by the Exmouth Quay Residents Association and was carried out between 1 August and 7 September last year.

Responses were received from individuals, residents living in the vicinity, users of the beach and slipway and local interest groups, as well as the police, town and district councillors, and Devon County Council. 

Headline findings were:

  • 98% of individual users said that a PSPO would have a negative impact on their use and enjoyment of the area.
  • 93% of water based organisations launch and recover at Belshers Slipway
  • 94% of individuals said that there would be a negative impact on them if they were prevented from accessing and driving over to Shelly beach to launch craft
  • 50% of residents stated that vehicles and watercraft being launched at the slipway and on the beach were not a problem
  • 56% of residents said that a PSPO on the slipway and beach would have a negative impact on them
  • 60% of residents stated that their quality of life had not been reduced by vehicle use on the beach or watercraft using Belsher’s
  • Only 30% of residents said that the launching of personal water craft at Belsher’s Slipway/Shelly Beach was a fairly big problem.

The main conclusion from the consultation was that there was little or no requirement for a PSPO, as it would limit access to the water. Of particular cause for concern was the issue that a PSPO would not be able to control jet skis on the water, as it cannot be imposed over water.

However, as a result of the consultation, two further positive approaches - to address the anti-social behaviour at the slipway and beach - were agreed by councillors.

Firstly, an alternative strategy that may include a harbour patrol boat to carry out more on-water enforcement, potentially funded by a partnership that would include East Devon, will now be investigated by the council.

Secondly, it was also agreed that council officers, including representatives from Environmental Health and Car Parks, will meet with the local group of personal water craft (PWC) users with the aim of drawing up a code of conduct for residents, visitors and PWC users.