March 24, 2023 2.00 pm This story is over 15 months old

Councillor denies metal detecting is banned on Cleethorpes beach

New rules will come into force for the beach

A councillor has defended North East Lincolnshire Council’s future rules on unauthorised metal detecting on council-owned parks and beaches, saying it is not a ban.

A public space protection order (PSPO) will begin from April 1, that will see a £100 fine for anyone metal detecting on council-owned land without a prior permit.

The prior permit will not allow speculative metal detecting, but will enable it for archaeological or educational purposes, or to find lost property, such as a wedding ring, and locating underground services.

Cllr Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safe and stronger communities, says the move is as a result of safety and environmental issues with holes dug not being filled in.

He also stressed the PSPO does not outright ban metal detecting.

A number of metal detectorists have expressed their opposition to the move, with a Scartho man describing it as “a total joke”.

The focus of the debate has been on Cleethorpes Beach. Much of that is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), making it already illegal to metal detect there for environmental reasons.

The crown estate owns the beach. However, the council is designated with responsibility for it.

Councillor Ron Shepherd for North East Lincolnshire Council

Councillor Shepherd said: “There is no form of ban at all. What we’re saying to people is if you want to metal detect, you apply for a licence.

“That goes across any of the council’s land and the reason for that is we need to know who it is, who’s on there metal detecting.

“If they do dig holes and don’t fill them in, then at least we know who’s doing it.”

However, the ban on unauthorised metal detecting was announced without details on how to get the permit.

“With hindsight, we could have been prepared for it,” Councillor Shepherd accepted.

The issue he had had from contact with the National Association of Detectorists and individual detectors was about Cleethorpes Beach and not council-owned parks.

“But how many people will actually apply for a licence? That’s the question and so far, I think we’ve had about 20 enquiries across the borough.”

He later added: “We’re not owners here, what we’re trying to do is safeguard everybody, not just a few individuals.

“Where they say that they come and remove debris from the beach, somebody said they remove unexploded ordnance. If they are doing that, they are dafter than I thought they were.

“Those individuals who wish to apply for a permit, must apply in writing to North East Lincolnshire Council, giving their name, address, contact details and where they wish to go and metal detect.

“Although the permits will be within North East Lincolnshire Council, we’d still like to know where they aim to detect. If they say across the borough, it’s across the borough.”

An outright metal detecting ban was originally floated by the council in a public consultation in November on a host of new PSPOs. It was the only proposed new restriction that had a majority of the more than 300 respondents against it, by 59 per cent to 41.

Like other planned PSPOs, including restrictions on bait digging, the ban on unauthorised metal detecting will come into force from April 1. A month’s grace period will be given before fines begin to be issued for activities from May 1.