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A major incident has been declared in Bournemouth after thousands of people flocked to the town’s beaches on the hottest day of the year.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council leaders said they had been forced to initiate an “emergency response” on Thursday, with additional police patrols and extra parking enforcement. It comes as huge crowds turned out for a second consecutive day amid the heatwave.
“We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours,” council leader Vicki Slade said.
“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.”
The council said it had issued a record 558 parking fines as people descended on Bournemouth’s beaches, while more than 41 tonnes of rubbish had been removed from along the coastline on Wednesday and Thursday.
There were also a number of incidents involving “excessive alcohol and fights”, the local authority warned.
Urging visitors not to travel to the area’s beaches, 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.”
Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, said there had been half a million visitors to Dorset, adding that he had asked the police minister to dispatch additional officers to the county to deal with the issue if they were needed.
‘MAJOR INCIDENT’ declared in BOURNEMOUTH - pls stay away.— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) June 25, 2020
With 1/2 million visitors in Dorset, roads are gridlocked, hindering emergency vehicles & beaches are full - with Dispersal Orders on both piers.
I’ve asked Police Minister to dispatch additional police if Dorset requests pic.twitter.com/YnSpfdXOLc
Dorset Police’s assistant chief constable Sam de Raya said: “The declaration of a major incident allows us to bring agencies together so we can take actions available to us to safeguard the public as much as possible.
“We are also reliant on people taking personal responsibility and strongly advise members of the public to think twice before heading to the area. Clearly we are still in a public health crisis and such a significant volume of people heading to one area places a further strain on emergency services resources.
“This influx of visitors to our area places a significant increase in demand on our service and we would ask people to please bear with us”.
He added: “We would therefore stress again that we are asking people to please stay away from the area.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.