Bournemouth’s beach was left strewn with 41 tonnes of waste as thousands flocked to the seaside during the lockdown heatwave, prompting the local council to declare a major incident.
Thousands of beachgoers continued to head to the seaside on Thursday, leading Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to urge people to stay away after services were “stretched to the absolute hilt”.
Councillors also condemned the “irresponsible” behaviour of crowds who gridlocked roads, dumped rubbish, parked illegally and some who reportedly got involved in fights.
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.
It came as parts of the UK recorded scorching temperatures, with the mercury reaching 32.6C (90.7F) at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Authorities confirmed that 33 tonnes of waste was cleaned up along the full stretch of Bournemouth’s 19.7km coastline – which runs from Sandbanks to Christchurch Harbour – on Thursday morning.
That was in addition to eight tonnes collected between Bournemouth’s two piers on Wednesday evening.
Bournemouth City Council told Yahoo News UK: “In the stretch between just the piers, eight tonnes of waste was collected yesterday on the second collection run of the day.
“This morning, a further 33 tonnes of waste was removed along the full stretch of coastline.”
During the day, the beach saw a number of incidents reported, involving excessive alcohol and fights, as well as council parking wardens handing out 558 tickets for parking violations. Extra parking enforcement is now in place.
On Thursday, a multi-agency emergency response was activated to co-ordinate resources across the area to tackle the issues as the heatwave continued.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 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.
One huge party on Bournemouth Beach today. Very little social distancing, total free for all and littering galore. Litter picked on the cliff top and beach at 7:30-9pm. @BCPCouncil some bins were half empty at the Pier. No excuses #lovewhereyoulive @Tobias_Ellwood @vikki4mdnp pic.twitter.com/6K7po9lDeS
— DORSET DEVILS (@dorsetdevils) June 24, 2020
“We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.”
Dorset Devils, a group of volunteer litter pickers, joined efforts to clean up after crowds had headed home.
The group tweeted: “One huge party on Bournemouth beach today. Very little social distancing, total free for all and littering galore.”
The council and Dorset Police are now urging crowds to stay away from beaches in the area, as the UK continues to experience a scorching heatwave.
Slade added: “The numbers of people descending down here are like those seen on a bank holiday.
“We are not in a position to welcome visitors in these numbers now or to deal with the full range of problems associated with managing volumes of people like this. PLEASE do not come. We are not able to welcome you yet.”
On Thursday, the Met Office confirmed it was the hottest day of the year, with the temperature reaching 33.3C at Heathrow Airport, beating Wednesday’s high of 32.6C.
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