A WEYMOUTH mum was shocked to be told her five-year-old son would have to get off his bike or face possible prosecution for cycling on Weymouth promenade.
Little Harry Besant, from Weymouth, had just got his freedom this year after getting out of stabilisers, when he was among cyclists targeted by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council beach patrol officers.
Mum Clair said her son loves cycling and rides to school and at weekends while she walks by his side.
Mrs Besant was shocked when she was told that Harry must stop cycling or face prosecution on Saturday lunchtime.
She said the pair were on their way down the promenade to Nothe Fort, by the Jubilee Clock and saw a Beach Patrol Officer ask an adult cyclist in front of them to stop and dismount.
Mrs Besant said: “The man headed towards us and said: ‘He needs to get off his bike.’ “I was in a bit of shock. I said: ‘He is only five.’ His reply was: ‘It doesn’t matter. If he continues he will be prosecuted like anyone else.’ I was just like: ‘I can’t believe it.’ I was so cross.”
Mrs Besant admitted she may have been in the wrong but told her son to carry on cycling.
She added that Harry had been ‘quite upset’ by the incident and did not want to cycle for the ‘rest of the day’.
The pair walked back along the promenade at 7pm when it was quiet but Harry still didn’t want to ride his bike as he didn’t want to get into trouble.
Mrs Besant said she understood that the beach patrol officer had just been doing his job.
She is calling for facilities to be put in place so that everyone can enjoy the seafront.
Mrs Besant added: “I just feel it’s unfair.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are irresponsible cyclists as well as responsible ones, but I think it’s unfair that there is a land train, which has a motorised engine that can go on the promenade but a child can’t ride a bike.”
Mrs Besant said there was a cycle track away from town along Preston Beach Road on the Promenade but that there wasn’t provision for people going into town. She said: “There’s a massive Olympic campaign to get people walking and cycling. I don’t think we are catering to people on bikes or children to be able to get into town on bike.”
She added: “I really feel it’s an unfair bylaw.”
'We do not want to upset children'
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council spokesman for Leisure and Tourism, Andy Blackwood, said that the council did not want to upset anyone but that they had a responsibility to administer the bylaws governing the promenade for everyone’s safety.
He said: “The Esplanade is enjoyed by thousands of people every year including pedestrians and those using the land train.
“We do our best, working in partnership with Dorset Police, to make the Esplanade a safe and pleasant place for all to enjoy.
“We certainly do not want to upset children or their parents whilst carrying out our duties and, if this has happened in this particular case, we would like to apologise.”
He added: “However, we have a statutory responsibility to administer the by-laws governing cycling along the Esplanade.
“Whilst we have no formal record of this event, we would like to point out that our beach patrol officers face many situations where they may exercise discretion, and whilst it is possible one of them may have been over zealous, generally they do try very hard to do their job in a responsible and proportionate way for the safety of all who use the Esplanade.”