Council leader says antisocial mob that swamped Bournemouth beach 'not welcome'
26 June 2020, 10:42
The leader of BCP council has condemned the "absolutely appalling behaviour" of people who swamped Bournemouth beach yesterday amid reports of antisocial behaviour.
A major incident was declared yesterday in Bournemouth after thousands of people swamped the beach on the hottest day of the year.
The local authority, BCP council, covers Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. They instigated a multi-agency emergency response to tackle the issues caused by people descending on the beach.
There were reports of drug-taking, fights, people using residents' gardens as toilets, abuse of refuse collectors, as well as more widespread issues of overcrowding.
Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole council leader Vikki Slade told LBC News today: "People on the beach were only part of the problem. It was the behaviour of those people.
"They used people's gardens as toilets and car parks, blocking their access and using roundabouts to park cars.
"The amount of litter they have taken off the beach this morning is just awful, the impact that has on our local environment is dreadful.
"We also saw antisocial behaviour from some people, violence, fights, drug-taking - that's not welcome at all.
"That's why we needed all the other agencies to step in and help us collectively."
Police have sent more officers to support council staff. The council has also hired security guards to protect staff members because of the way "people were behaving towards them", she added.
The fire brigade, as well as the coastguard, are on standby and the Highways Agency are helping divert people away from the area.
Cllr Slade said the reason it became "such a crisis" was because shops and other facilities were closed and so the only place visitors could go to was the beach.
She added: "We expect that because of the difficulties with foreign travel, more and more people are going to want to stay local over the summer. So, may well see an incredible bumper year, which is fantastic when everything is open.
"At the moment, it's only the beach, a few takeaway kiosks and the toilets are open.
"The restaurants and the cafes aren't open and all the other attractions that people come down and enjoy aren't functioning. So, the only thing they can do is sit on the beach and that's why it became such a crisis.'
Health Secretary Matt Hancock threatened to close beaches if people continue to flout social distancing.
When asked whether she would welcome the decision, Mrs Slade said: "Lots of local people would welcome that.
"They don't want to lose access to their beaches but they're prepared to lose access to their beaches if it means keeping our local communities safe and it means that we can get a bit of control back."