review of open space and beach byelaws

24 MARCH 2011
To review current Byelaw coverage for land managed by Leisure Services and
recommend to members measures to improve the scope and content of Byelaw
Decision Required
Members are recommended to instruct the Head of Leisure Services and the Head of
Legal Services to draft three new sets of byelaws based on the Government’s model
byelaws for:
(i) Greenspaces – using Model Byelaw set 2 (“Byelaws for Pleasure Grounds, Public
Walks and Open Spaces”)
(ii) Promenades – using Model Byelaw set 5 (“Byelaws for Promenades”)
(iii) The Seashore – using Model Byelaw set 6 (“Byelaws for the Seashore”)
and to report on the exact details of the byelaws and the areas to be covered.
The need for a review of byelaws was recognised by this Committee on 30th April 2009
following consideration of problems relating to the use of catapults on open spaces.
Suitable byelaws help to protect the interests of legitimate users of open space by
limiting activities that might be dangerous or interfere with their enjoyment of a site.
As part of the review consideration has been given to the adequacy of existing byelaw
coverage and to the process of byelaw adoption. The government issues “model
byelaws” to guide local authorities on the appropriate content and wording to be used.
Experience has shown that the necessary Secretary of State approval is likely to be far
easier to obtain when such guidance is followed.
Existing byelaw coverage
The existing byelaw coverage on open spaces and other land controlled by Leisure
V2 8.03.2011 Page 1
Services is detailed in Appendix 1.
Of the 7 sets of Byelaws currently in force those for Cemeteries and Boats are
considered to be adequate for current problems.
The existing byelaws for greenspaces i.e. those covering “Pleasure Grounds”, Dogs in
Parks and Recreation Grounds, Golf and Upton Country Park are out of date for a
number of reasons e.g. they do not cover all sites currently managed as open space or
provisions have been superseded e.g. by Dog Control Orders. In addition these
byelaws include no specific measures to control the use of catapults or similar devices,
an issue which has arisen on some sites in recent years. Furthermore the current
situation is confusing with four sets of byelaws giving incomplete and inconsistent
coverage of greenspaces. The approximate extent of the coverage of the “Pleasure
Ground” byelaws relative to the current greenspace holdings of the Council are shown
in Appendix 2; at present only around one-quarter of such sites are covered by byelaws.
The existing byelaws for the Seashore, Promenades and Cliffs are considered to cover
most of the present issues but adoption of the model byelaws for Promenades might
make it easier to manage cycling along the prom more flexibly than at present. Similarly,
the adoption of the model byelaws for the Seashore might help to manage bait-digging
in the harbour. Members will be aware that, both these issues may be contentious and
considerable discussion may be required with interested parties before any byelaws are
Neighbouring local authorities generally have similar byelaws to Poole. Many
authorities have revised their byelaws, generally, based on the model byelaws in recent
years including the following:
Bournemouth (Pleasure Grounds, Public Walks and Open Spaces) – 1999
East Dorset District Council (various Local Nature Reserves) – 2000
Corfe Mullen Parish Council (Pleasure Grounds, Public Walks and Open Spaces) –
Dorchester Town Council - 1992
The updating of this authority’s greenspace byelaws would bring it more closely in line
with neighbouring authorities.
The content of the government’s model byelaws
Copies of the three sets of model byelaws referred to in 2.1 are available on the
Department of Communities and Local Government website:
(i) Model Byelaw set 2 for Pleasure Grounds, Public Walks and Open Spaces
(ii) Model Byelaw set 5 for Promenades
(iii) Model Byelaw set 6 for the Seashore
The model byelaws (set 2) for “pleasure grounds, public walks and open spaces” cover
most of the problems usually found in managing open space including a requirement
V2 8.03.2011 Page 2
that “no person shall throw or use any device to propel or discharge in the ground any
object which is liable to cause injury to any other person”. It is believed that such a
control would help to control the problems periodically caused by the use of catapults on
open spaces.
The model byelaws for the Seashore cover the majority of the issues found on our
beaches. These byelaws can also be used to give some control over bait digging
though total prohibition is not possible due to established common law rights. The
model byelaws for the seashore normally cover beach and foreshore but exclude areas
usually above high-water mark, so would not cover promenades as such.
The model byelaws for Promenades are also likely to cover most of the issues usually
found on such sites. Cycling is a contentious issues and the model byelaws would
allow cycling to be permitted on designated routes, but prohibited on such routes at
certain times of the day in the busier season.
In a number of cases consideration would need to be given to the most appropriate
option where the model byelaws give alternatives, for example with respect to ball
games, prohibition would be inappropriate for most sites but byelaw 30 would probably
cover problems typically experienced:
No person shall play ball games outside a designated area for playing ball games
in such a manner:
(a) as to exclude persons not playing ball games from use of that part
(b) as to cause danger or give reasonable grounds for annoyance to any
other person in the ground; or
(c) which is likely to cause damage to any tree, shrub or plant in the
Consideration would also need to be given to areas which might be exempted from
certain byelaws for example e.g. on greenspaces if the model byelaw on cycling were to
be adopted, which prohibits cycling other than on rights of way for cycles or designated
route, then any such designated route would need to identified and signed on the
There are additional enabling powers that could be used (with slightly different sets of
model byelaws) for particular types of open space (e.g. Local Nature Reserves).
However, the use of these powers could be confusing, if for example, two nearby
greenspace sites were covered by different byelaws. The adoption of the three specific
sets of byelaws mentioned above (for greenspaces, promenades and the seashore)
would be the simplest way to provide comprehensive byelaw coverage. This would
enable the clearest guidance to be provided to members of the public, staff and other
The procedure for introducing new byelaws
The Council may make byelaws under a number of different enabling powers.
However, the approval of the relevant Secretary of State is required before such
byelaws can come into force. Government guidance is that byelaws should only be
sought to deal with genuine problems which are not addressed by other legislation. In a
number of cases problems that would previously have been addressed by byelaws are
V2 8.03.2011 Page 3
now covered by other legislation e.g. the Council may make Dog Control Orders under
the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
If the approval were to be sought from the Secretary of State for the replacement of the
current open space byelaws the following actions would be necessary:
(i) A list of current open spaces needs to be drawn up and areas mapped as
(ii) The legal status of each are of open space established (this is necessary to
determine the correct enabling power to be used i.e. sections 12 and/or 15 of the
Open Spaces Act 1906 or section 164 of the Public Health Act 1875).
(iii) It would be advisable to consult with local interest groups on the proposals at an
early stage.
(iv) Once the Council has resolved to adopt the byelaws and the official seal has
been applied to the document it should be placed on deposit for a month and
advertised in the local paper.
Members of the public may send objections to the Department of Communities and
Local Government (DCLG). If no objections are received the Secretary of State will
then confirm the byelaws.
Financial Implications
There are some costs associated with updating the byelaws in terms of advertisements
and consultation and legal fees in formulating the exact wording to be used.
Establishing the legal status of each site could also be time consuming. Displaying
byelaws on site and other signage (e.g. for any designated cycle routes) would also
incur costs. It is difficult to estimate these until further work is done on the detail of the
byelaws to be adopted.
Legal Implications
The existence of byelaws may lead to an expectation that the Council will take
reasonable measures to on enforcement. All three sets of model byelaws provide for a
penalty of an offender on summary conviction for a fine not exceeding level 2 on the
standard scale (£500 as at 1st February 2011). The cost of taking such a prosecution is
likely to be high.
The model byelaws for greenspaces (but not for promenades or the seashore) allow for
an officer of the council or a constable to remove offenders from the open space on
which an offence is taking place. Staffing levels on site are likely to make active
enforcement of the byelaws difficult although a robust set of byelaws may make it easier
for the police to take enforcement action.
Policy Implications
There may be policy implications in framing the byelaws as, for example, a balance will
need to be struck between promotion of cycling, as a healthy and environmentally
V2 8.03.2011 Page 4
friendly means of transport, and minimising potential conflict with other site users.
Risk Management Implications
The application of an appropriate set of byelaws could be used to demonstrate that the
council is taking reasonable steps to mitigate risks e.g. to manage conflict between
different user groups. However, there may also be an expectation that the council will
take effective measures to enforce such byelaws and enforcement activity is likely to be
limited by staff resources.
Equalities Implications
The byelaws are intended to strike a balance between the interests of different user
groups e.g. by prohibiting activities such as cycling in unsuitable areas. As a result
certain vulnerable user groups, such as the elderly and young children, are likely to feel
safer when using greenspaces. There are no negative equality implications of the
Environmental Impact
Adoption of the model byelaws would, subject to the availability of resources for
enforcement, assist in dealing with environmental issues such as unmanaged baitdigging and the lighting of fires.
Staffing Implications
There are no direct staffing implications of the adoption of the model byelayws.
However there may be unrealistic expectations amongst members of the public and
special interest group regarding the staffing levels available for enforcement.
Despite the lengthy process required to update greenspaces byelaws and the inevitable
difficulties of enforcement, the adoption of the three sets of model byelaws would give a
much clearer indication of what activities are permitted on greenspace sites. This would
be of considerable value to site users, officers and other organisations such as the
Contact Officers:
Nick Woods – tel 01202 261334
Background Papers:
See Appendix 1
V2 8.03.2011 Page 5
V2 8.03.2011 Page 6
APPENDIX 1 – Existing byelaw coverage in Poole
Issues covered
Areas/sites covered
Byelaw 13 (control of dogs)
was revoked in 1993 when
specific byelaws relating to
dogs were introduced (see
Prohibition of dogs from certain specified
play areas and sports facilities;
requirement to remove canine faeces
from specified parks.
Coverage applies to specific sites listed. This
includes all major open spaces in existence at the
times the byelaws were enacted e.g. Poole Park,
Branksome Recreation Ground and The Clump
(Broadstone) but not other sites subsequently
acquired such as Delph Woods, Parkway
(Canford Heath) or Turlin Moor Recreation
Many but not all of existing play areas are
covered; exceptions include those created
subsequent to the Byelaw e.g. Millennium
Gardens and Sandbanks
Prohibition of driving, chipping or pitching
a hard golf ball.
Covers the majority but not all parks and
recreation grounds.
Structures; notices, fires; vehicles; gates;
camping; firearms; dogs on leads; fishing;
protection of wildlife; bathing; games;
model aircraft; music; and disturbance
Structures, performances, begging,
parties/barbecues, life-saving equipment,
animals, skateboarding and roller-skating;
cycles and vehicles; cycles and
Upton Country Park – may not cover additional
areas of Park opened to the public subsequent to
Seashore between Haven Hotel and Branksome
Dene Chine; speeds limited to 8 nautical miles
per hour (except between first and second
groynes at Shore Road)
Existing cemeteries. Byelaws/ Regulations listed
in booklet published in 1975.
Pleasure Ground Byelaws
(1936 with supplementary
byelaws 1968)
Damage to planting/furniture etc;
livestock; prohibition/speed/ parking of
vehicles; billposting; bathing; protection of
wildlife; control of dogs; games and
sports; tents etc; disturbance and
obstruction; public meetings; music;
sailing of boats; collections; photography
Byelaws for the Regulation
of Dogs in Parks and
Recreation Grounds (1993)
Pleasure Ground Byelaws
[relating to the
playing/practice of golf]
1993 and 1994
Upton Country Park
Byelaws (date unknown –
pre 1983)
Byelaws with respect to the
Seashore, Promenades and
Cliffs in the Borough of
Poole (date not known )
Byelaws as to Boats (1967)
Limits speeds of boats off main beaches.
Cemetery Byelaws (1957)
Prohibition of dogs, cycling, control of
vehicles and use of cemetery.
Dog Control Order 2006
requires owners to clear up
after their dogs in all open
spaces, supersedes parts of
these Byelaws
Whole of the seashore and all the promenades
and Cliffs within Poole; it is not clear if these are
intended to cover promenade/beaches at areas
such as Baiter/Whitecliff and Hamworthy Park.
Cemeteries also covered by
additional regulations
V2 8.03.2011 Page 7
APPENDIX 2 – Approximate extent of open space byelaw coverage January 2011-02-02
V2 8.03.2011 Page 8