The fine weather and upcoming bank holiday weekend has seen an influx of people visiting Devon’s coast and countryside – prompting Devon County Council to remind people to “think twice” before heading out.
Some of the county’s beaches and areas of Dartmoor have been besieged by people this week, with inconsiderate parking creating issues on local roads.
In Woolacombe, in North Devon, yesterday (Wednesday 20 May) more than 70 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued in the Challacombe Hill area after people parked on a clearway, where it is illegal to park at any time and could potentially block access for emergency vehicles.
Devon is among the south west authorities that have joined forces to remind visitors that despite the slight relaxation of lockdown the region wants people to “come back later”.
With growing concern that local roads will become gridlocked and crowds of people may not be following social distancing guidelines, members of the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) is also keen to reinforce the message to think twice about travelling to the South West in order to avoid overwhelming local emergency services and hospitals.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The weather may make it tempting to take a day trip, but please think twice. Inconsiderate parking is putting unnecessary pressure on our local roads which, in turn, impacts on the local emergency services. Parking is limited across the county, as not all communities have re-opened their car parks as yet, but that doesn’t mean that people should leave their car wherever they like.
“The coronavirus and the current lockdown are creating enough challenges for everyone, so at this time we don’t want people needlessly adding to the problems facing communities. The best option would be to come to Devon another time when the county is fully open and it is safer to do so.”
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Councillor for Combe Martin Rural has this morning (Thursday 21 May) met with Woolacombe Parish Council, car park operators and beach manager.
She said: “The local community in Woolacombe was inundated yesterday. Police have said that even if car parks had opened with reduced capacity to meet social distancing guidelines, there would still have been problems due to the sheer volume of visitors. There is currently no lifeguard cover on the beach, the car parks are closed, the loos are closed, the shops and cafes are closed, so it makes sense if people put off their visit until the county has had chance to re-open.”
Great Western Railway is also reminding people that there should not currently be any leisure travel by train and they are only operating limited capacity trains for essential travel to work.