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UK: Bournemouth beach: ‘Major incident’ as thousands flock to coast

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said he had asked the government to dispatch additional officers to Dorset if needed to deal with traffic and antisocial behaviour.

  • Sun-seekers have been urged to stay away from a beach as thousands flocked to the Dorset coast and a major incident was declared in Bournemouth.


Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council said Bournemouth Beach 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.

Traffic built up early on coast-bound roads – including Durdle Door – and people travelled to Bournemouth from as far as Birmingham.

By Thursday evening the Sandbanks peninsula was “heavily congested”, the council said, repeating its warning for people to “please stay away”.

The ferry service in Sandbanks tweeted: “Again we’re struggling to get traffic off the ferry at Poole, for now we hope to carry half loads of vehicles from Studland, but depends on the gridlock in Sandbanks tonight.”

A local resident took a photo of the lengthy queue for the Mudeford ferry as beach-goers left for the day.

The council said declaring a major incident meant a “multi-agency emergency response has now been activated to co-ordinate resources across the area to tackle the issues”.

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, tweeted in response to Thursday’s beach scenes with a warning Covid-19 “will rise again”unless people followed social distancing guidelines.

Council leader Vikki Slade said they were “absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches”.

“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,” she added.

The council said it issued a record 558 parking fines.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said he had asked the government to dispatch additional officers to Dorset if needed to deal with traffic and antisocial behaviour.

“It is very sad to see a number of people being selfish and also acting dangerously,” he said.

Mr Ellwood said it was “not practical” to close Dorset’s beaches altogether but suggested signs warning about overcrowding could be put up at railway stations and on approaching motorways.

He added the government needed to be “dynamic” in its response to beach crowding, otherwise the lockdown would have “been for nothing”.

“I’m sorry to see the departure of the No 10 briefings because they would have been perfect for today – for a key figure in No 10 to clarify what is actually happening in Bournemouth and to clarify that message nationally – to say ‘please for the moment stay away from all our seafronts’,” he said.

Extra police officers 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.
— Sky news