Officers in Bournemouth are set to create diversions, close sections of the beach and tow away vehicles left in dangerous positions
Get the pick of the week’s stories and fascinating Devon history features direct to your inbox every Saturday morning in our exclusive Weekend Report newsletter
Roadblocks, diversions and beach closures are among the measures being considered by police in the South West to avoid the chaos of packed beaches on what is expected to be one of the hottest days of the year.
Officers over the border in Dorset are keen to prevent a repeat of last month’s scenes in Bournemouth where thousands packed the beach as a heatwave swept the country.
Temperatures in the South West are forecast to hit 33C in some areas and police say they are ready to take a robust stance should similar scenes occur.
The Guardian reports that in Bournemouth police officers have been asked to work extended shifts and weekend leave has been cancelled for others as the emergency services and the local council brace themselves for another major influx of visitors.
Prime minister Boris Johnson urged people not to lose focus and risk spreading Covid-19, saying on Thursday: “Broadly speaking, the only way to control coronavirus is if everybody collectively obeys the social distancing rules and works together to drive the virus down.
“What I’m saying to people is: don’t lose focus, don’t lose discipline, continue to observe those guidelines, and if you have symptoms, get a test.”
A major incident was declared during June’s hot spell when as many as half a million people descended on the beaches at Bournemouth and Poole.
The local authority, BCP council, has brought in new powers to tow vehicles away if they have been left in dangerous spots and is also asking people to use a new app it has developed that pinpoints busy parts of the beaches.
Devon and Cornwall did not see anywhere near as many beachgoers, though there was an influx of visitors at Woolacombe where illegal parking saw local traffic wardens issue so many fines they ran out of tickets.
Woolacombe beach was one of many across Devon and Cornwall to be packed yesterday as the sun shone and the mercury rose to around 28C.
Devon Live has contacted Devon and Cornwall Police to ask if they have similar preventative measures in place.
Cornwall council asked people to plan their visits carefully. Rob Nolan, cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “Visitors should be aware it’s not the Cornwall they would expect.”
He said many campsites, B&Bs, pubs and restaurants were running at 50% capacity. “Do your research, book ahead,” he said.
Meanwhile, the RNLI and HM Coastguard urged every parent to be aware of the potential dangers of the water, especially rip currents.
At the start of the month RNLI lifeguards rescued 12 bathers who were swept off their feet by a rip current into rough seas at a beach in Cornwall.
Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, said: “We are seeing a spike in incidents this summer involving these potentially deadly currents, which move even faster than an Olympic swimmer and can quickly drag people into deep water a long way from the shore.”
Dorset Police’s Supt Richard Bell told The Guardian plans had been put in place to cope with another possible surge.
But he added: “We are definitely not asking people to stay away. We welcome all visitors, but ask them to respect the environment and the community.”
He said the force did not expect the beaches to be as crowded this time because hotels, campsites, pubs and restaurants are open. In June, the beach was one of the few places people could go to.
News – Police ready to set up roadblocks to avoid beach chaos of last month