Covid: Bournemouth prepares for post-lockdown visitor surge

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Bournemouth pier 25 June 2020Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The beaches at the resort were heaving with people when the first lockdown was eased

Covid marshals, drones to monitor crowds, and a park-and-ride scheme are being brought in ahead of an expected influx of visitors to a seaside resort.

Thousands of people flocked to Bournemouth when the first lockdown was eased last June, which led to the council declaring a major incident.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council has agreed an extra £2.4m to bring in a range of resources.

It said "exceptional" numbers were expected when current restrictions end.

Media caption,

Then council leader Vikki Slade declared a major incident in Bournemouth in June 2020 after thousands of people flocked there

The authority said it had been planning "to ensure we are able to cope better across the resort with the anticipated surge in demand when the lockdown arrangements ease".

It added: "Peak days will be managed like a major event."

Seafront litter bins are being tripled in size and more toilets are also being brought in.

An app used last year, which shows beachgoers which areas are crowded, has been upgraded to include parking and toilet information.

England's current "stay at home" regulations are expected to be lifted on 29 March, based on certain conditions being met, such as a successful vaccine rollout, with further easing throughout April, May and June.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service a decision report said the "huge influx" of visitors to Bournemouth last summer, and the subsequent calling of a major incident on 25 June, had prompted the additional resources.

The council said it was predicting the surge in visitors to start from Easter, as more people are expected to holiday in the UK.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Services were stretched to "the absolute hilt" in the resort post-lockdown last summer, the council said

The relaxing of restrictions last year saw roads gridlocked, vast amounts of litter, overcrowding, wild camping and anti-social behaviour in the resort.

Council workers reported being verbally abused as they tried to enforce rules over parking and beach barbecues, as thousands descended on its beaches.

Dorset Police said it was also "developing a good plan" to cope with the expected large numbers of visitors at Easter and in the summer.

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