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Councillor says beach residents feel 'trapped'

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020 12:58pm

By Ed Oldfield, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Image: Google Maps

Visitors are parking outside their homes to go to the beach

A Devon councillor says people living near a beach feel trapped in their homes because of people defying travel restrictions.

Torbay councillor Karen Kennedy urged people to comply with coronavirus restrictions and stay away from the coast.

The councillor for Churston with Galmpton, which includes Broadsands Beach at Paignton, said local people have been afraid to go out to exercise because of visitors parking outside their homes to go to the beach.

The council-owned car park at Broadsands has been closed, but people have been parking in the residential area nearby.

Cllr Kennedy said: “People are scared to come out of their houses. They are scared to use the beach on their doorstep.

“The more people break the travel restrictions, the longer we are going to have to stay in lockdown.”

Torbay Council has also closed the seafront car park at Goodrington in Paignton and blocked off the seafront road near Paignton Pier to deter visitors.

The councillor’s concerns support the police message that people should exercise near their homes and that the Westcountry is closed for tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer told BBC Breakfast at the weekend that people should examine their own consciences if they endanger lives by travelling to Devon and Cornwall after news that fines could be issued for non-essential travel.

“If a £60 ticket makes you do something and 684 people dying yesterday didn’t, then I think you’ve got to take a good look at yourself as to whether you’ve realised the seriousness and significance of where we are,” he said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said after scenes of people gathering in parks and on beaches to sunbathe: “Even in the hot weather you must stay at home, that is not a request, that is an instruction.”

He warned that if people continued to defy the restrictions all outdoor exercise could be banned.

National police guidance was clarified to say that people could travel a “reasonable distance” to exercise locally.

Devon and Cornwall Police said people should be reasonable and stay near their homes.

It said in a statement: “There has been much discussion around what the legislation does and doesn’t specifically prohibit. 

“The legal aspects of the legislation are based upon whether a person’s actions are reasonable or not. 

“Officers will continue to make individual judgments based on the specific circumstances presented to them.

“The key to making this work for everyone in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and across the country, is for everyone to be reasonable. 

“If you can exercise with a run or a walk near your home, it is reasonable for you to do so. 

“Our interpretation is that it is not reasonable, for the majority, to drive miles to a specific place such as a beauty spot. 

“It is also not within the spirit of what we are trying to achieve if you drive from Devon to the coast of Cornwall for surfing, regardless of whether that is “lawful” or not.”

The force said it would use enforcement “as a last resort”.

Under the restrictions, people should only leave home for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible;
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

The guidance says: “These reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.”

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