Major incident declared as thousands flock to beaches on England's south coast

·3-min read
Major incident declared as thousands flock to beaches on England's south coast

A major incident has been declared after thousands of people descended on beaches on the south coast of England during this week’s hot weather.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said services were "completely overstretched" as huge numbers of visitors defied advice to stay away.

Dorset Police has also urged people to stay away from the area, warning that "such a significant volume of people heading to one area places a further strain on emergency services resources" during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

It comes as temperatures are expected to hit 34C in some parts of the UK on Thursday.

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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 to 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. We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.”

The council said 558 parking enforcement fines had been issued – the highest on record.

Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya from Dorset Police said declaring a major incident has allowed the force to bring in extra resources to "safeguard the public as much as possible".

"These are unprecedented times and we are urging people to stay away from the area of Bournemouth beach and other Dorset beaches," he 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."

He said the influx of visitors has placed a "significant increase in demand" on services in the area and urged people to stay away.

It comes after a woman died at a beach in Sussex.

Ambulance staff and police were called to a “serious incident” on Worthing seafront at about midday.

The air ambulance was seen landing and taking off from the beach as emergency services responded to the incident.

A spokesman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) said: “Sadly, despite the efforts of everyone at the scene a woman has sadly died.”

While the cause of death remains unclear, Sussex Police said she is reported to have suffered a “medical episode”.

The Met Office has issued an amber level three heat-health alert, which was extended on Thursday to take in Yorkshire and the east and south of England as well as the West and East Midlands.

Health authorities have encouraged those most vulnerable – many of whom have been shielding during lockdown – to protect themselves amid the “exceptionally hot weather forecast this week”.

Public Health England (PHE) said older people, those with underlying health conditions, and very young children were all more at risk from the higher temperatures.

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