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Bournemouth beach: Major incident declared as thousands flock to coast


Sun-seekers have been urged to stay away from the beach as thousands flocked to the Dorset coast and a major incident was declared in Bournemouth.
Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council said it was “stretched to the absolute hilt” on the second day of a UK heatwave.
Dorset Police said there were reports of gridlocked roads, fights and overnight camping.
People were urged to “act responsibly” as temperatures hit the mid-20s.
By mid-morning Bournemouth beach was busy “as far as the eye can see” and the Durdle Door car park was approaching capacity.
Traffic built up early on coast-bound roads and with people having travelled to Bournemouth from as far as Birmingham.
Council leader Vikki Slade said: “We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours.
“The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe. We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.”
The council confirmed it had issued a record 558 parking fines and said extra enforcement was now in place.
It said 33 tonnes of waste was cleaned up along the coastline on Thursday morning, in addition to eight tonnes collected between the piers on Wednesday.
Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said he had asked the government to dispatch additional officers to Dorset if needed.
“I have spoken to the police minister to say be prepared, be ready for Dorset Police to make that request, to say they are deluged with the traffic issues and anti-social behaviour,” he said.
“It is very sad to see a number of people being selfish and also acting dangerously.”
Extra police patrols have been brought in and security is in place to protect refuse crews who the council said faced “widespread abuse and intimidation” as they emptied overflowing bins.
rom as a far away as Birmingham
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya, of Dorset Police, said people should stay away from beaches in these “unprecedented times”.
“We are also reliant on people taking personal responsibility and strongly advise members of the public to think twice before heading to the area.”
“Clearly we are still in a public health crisis and such a significant volume of people heading to one area places a further strain on emergency services resources,” she said.
Beach after Wednesday’s influx of visitors
Photographs showed beaches and beauty spots heaving with people on Wednesday, which was the UK’s hottest day of the year so far.
David Morley, who lives in Sandbanks, said: “What we saw was a complete breakdown of normal decent behaviour and law and order – it’s completely swamping the system.”
The chain ferry linking Sandbanks and Studland was unable to carry vehicles late into Wednesday evening because of the gridlock on surrounding roads. There was also reports of illegal overnight camping on Bournemouth beach.
Elsewhere along the coast, police at Hove Lawns seafront put a dispersal order in place after a large gathering.
From Bournemouth pier there are thousands of people as far as the eye can see. Some in the sea on inflatables, others sitting on the sand, there are significant [numbers of] gazebos – there is one group of about 50 people.
One man told me he camped in a tent overnight, a lot of people have come from Birmingham – a six-hour round trip. People were telling me they wanted to get “out and about” after lockdown.
It’s incredibly hard to keep social distancing – people are passing each other certainly at less than 2m.
One woman from Birmingham admitted she felt uncomfortable, but said: “You’ve got to understand, after three months lockdown in the city centre, even seeing the sea is worth it.”
approaching capacity by mid-morning
Dorset councillor Laura Miller said she was verbally abused and spat at as she directed traffic at Durdle Door on Wednesday.
Roads to the beauty spot were closed after people failed to use the pre-booking parking system.
“Our local industry is dependent on tourism – we’re not saying ‘don’t come’, but come here in a safe and managed way. When it’s too busy, no-one is having fun,” she said.
The car park was approaching capacity again by mid-morning on Thursday.
Current government guidelines state that households can drive any distance in England to parks and beaches.
Earlier this month, both Dorset councils had called on the government to impose travel restrictions, raising concerns that visitor numbers could increase Covid-19 cases in the county.