Council and emergency services have praised local people for showing restraint after a multi agency response was needed to deal with the unprecedented visitor numbers arriving on the hottest day of the year.
Yesterday saw car parks in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole full by 10am, roads congested and thousands of people arriving by train throughout the day and evening, leading to extremely crowded beaches, stretched services and widespread anti-social behaviour.
Extra police patrols, enforcement teams and resources were redirected to support the council’s seafront ranger team, particularly around the hot spots of between the piers and at Sandbanks in Poole.
Work continued late into the night and enhanced support remains in place today as the area slowly recovers.
Today council and emergency services thanked the residents of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole for their support and for heeding warnings to stay away.
Council Leader Vikki Slade said: “Local people have been brilliant and I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to them for listening and obeying the warnings issued. We know so many of you share our frustrations at what happened over the last two days on our beaches. This is about outside visitors coming into the area in their thousands and refusing to take responsibility for their actions.
“We are still in a pandemic and in lockdown. When it became clear that an unsafe situation was emerging, we followed the official emergency planning process in place allowing us to escalate and take a multi agency response to manage the issues on the ground. I am delighted at the way all our partner agencies pulled together to co-ordinate efforts and those actions paid off. It was a shame it got to this point.”
Yesterday BCP Council:
- Issued 993 fixed penalty notices for illegally parked cars
- Collected in excess of 50 tonnes of waste from the promenade and beaches in just one day.
- Provided outreach youth workers to protect vulnerable young people from risk of exploitation
- Increased security patrols in terms of numbers and were on duty later into the evening
- Kept some public toilets open much later
- Placed extra staff on car parks entrances
- Increased numbers and extended hours of civil enforcement officers on patrol
- Warned public of the major incident at Bournemouth Seafront and Sandbanks Poole on digital signs on approach roads to the areas.
Cllr Slade added: “Services responded incredibly quickly and efficiently just as we plan for and I am pleased at how the area is starting to return to a better place. Yesterday saw scenes we do not want to see again and I am grateful to all those who were responsible but unfortunately so many weren’t on this occasion. We remain mindful of the continuing hot weather and what the peak summer period may bring. Contingency services are in place which can be actioned if required.
“The area is not looking to welcome large numbers back until lockdown eases and we adjust to a new normal. We continue to prepare for that time when our hospitality industry can open up again.”
Alan Penlington, South Western Railway’s Director of Customer Experience, said: “We would like to thank local residents and agencies in Bournemouth for their response over the last couple of days following the large number of people descending on the town.
“We again urge our customers to act responsibly, follow government rules and only use our services if necessary. If customers do need to travel with us, then they should wear a face covering, maintain social distancing, plan ahead and avoid busy times.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya, of Dorset Police, said: “Over the past few days we have seen an unprecedented significant increase in demand on our service. This demand has been felt throughout the county by all partner agencies who have been hugely impacted by the large number of visitors to our beaches.
“On the two hottest days of the week, Wednesday and Thursday, demand in Dorset Police almost doubled in comparison to the previous days due to the sheer influx of numbers of people in the area.
“Some of the visitors to our beaches were drinking alcohol, which may have contributed to incidents of antisocial behaviour and crime. We recognise that this not only puts a strain on emergency services, but also most importantly on local communities who are left not wanting to leave their homes due to fear of being caught up in the disorder.
“We are working extremely hard with our partners to resolve these issues and ensure that the beaches and beauty spots of Dorset remain a safe place to visit and enjoy.
“I would once again like to stress that we are urging people to stay away. If an area looks busy and you are unable to socially distance, please take personal responsibility and find somewhere else to go.”