Soaring temperatures led to fears that social distancing is not being adhered to

Soaring temperatures led to fears that social distancing is not being adhered to

by Danielle Thompson (May 2020)

SOARING temperatures yesterday led to fears that social distancing was not being adhered to across Sefton.

As the temperatures rose on Wednesday, May 20, so did the number of visitors going to Formby Dunes, Southport and Ainsdale beaches and Southport town centre, to name a few.

As these images show, dangerous levels of motorists visited Formby as higher-than-Bank-Holiday levels of visitors flocked to the village on Wednesday, May 20 ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.

As well as concerns that driveways are being obstructed - including stopping access for a disabled resident getting to their drive after a hospital appointment - many residents have fears that vehicles will not be able to get to them, if they have to call them.

As well as this, sheer numbers of people in the same places are making it extremely difficult for social distancing measure to be adhered to – such as at the entrance to Southport Pier and around the Marine Lake.

Meanwhile, the Friends of Crosby Beach – which saw soaring numbers of visitors - shared images of piles of rubbish left behind by visitors, including crates of beers, plastic bags and bottles and discarded nitrous oxide gas cannisters.

Southport Offshore Rescue Trust (Southport Lifeboat) were forced to issue a warning about members of the public parking dangerously on the slipway.

They said: “Once again, we appeal to the public not to park irresponsibly on Southport’s slipway.

“It is our way of accessing the beach to launch our lifeboats. Should we be required to attend a service call, our lifeboats would not be able to launch - which could have potentially life-threatening consequences. With lifeguard services temporarily suspended on our beach, coupled with the good weather, there has been an increase in call-outs for emergency crews that is putting extra strain on the volunteer coastal rescue teams.

“We understand that the public want to exercise freely on your coastline, however, we appeal to the public to consider where they’re parking.”

Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson said: “Several constituents contacted me yesterday and overnight regarding the traffic and parking issues around Formby beach over the last 24 hours.

I contacted Andy Cooke, chief constable of Merseyside Police, yesterday and he responded by saying he would send officers to the area to talk to people especially those in groups which are clearly not from the same household. The problem is the guidance the government has now issued regarding travel and exercise, and meeting up with others, has led to severe difficulties with enforcement of social distancing. People are allowed to travel from as far away as they like, and stay for as long as they want. The government guidance to stay home and stay safe was much clearer and I would urge people to do that wherever possible. It is not right that people in Formby must risk another surge in Covid 19 cases due to the numbers of visitors coming to the area from across the North West.

I expect all visitors to the Sefton Coast to park responsibly and take their litter home. Although many do so, too many do not and this has a huge impact on the lives of residents.

I have asked Sefton Council to update me on the actions they are taking following yesterday’s events. It’s an ongoing issue and one that is not easily solved, but further parking restrictions may be appropriate, as well as rethinking how the matrix signs are used to provide information to visitors.

I contacted the National Trust earlier this week, and they said they had opened their car parks in response to the new Government guidance, in order to take the pressure off local residential streets. They have this week unfurloughed staff and will have the Formby sites staffed this weekend and the toilets open. They tell me there will also be charging in place on their car parks this weekend.

Many residents express concern that in an emergency, fire and ambulance vehicles would not be able to gain access to homes around the coast due to queuing traffic and obstructive parking. I have asked North West Ambulance Service and Merseyside Fire & Rescue to comment on this.

Please email me if you any further questions. My staff are trying to help all constituents at this very difficult time and will do their best to answer questions. My email is”

A spokesperson for Sefton Council said: “Regardless of how nice the weather may be, everyone should be following the vital #StayatHome and #SocialDistancing advice. Protect yourselves, protect your families and protect our communities #MySefton #COVID19.”

One Champion reader emailed us to say: “I went for a walk yesterday afternoon and before people bite my head off, I live five minutes from Southport Pier so it was around ‘my block.’ On the walk, it felt like I was in a nightmare – people e

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