THE leader of BCP Council has called for an urgent travel clampdown to avoid the ‘chaotic scenes’ witnessed at Dorset’s packed beaches over the weekend.

Cllr Vikki Slade has written to the conurbation’s MPs, urging them to back calls for coronavirus travel restrictions which would effectively bar day-trippers from outside of the area from visiting the county’s beaches.

After witnessing numerous incidents of people flaunting social distancing regulations at Bournemouth’s beaches, Cllr Slade wants only residents with a BH or DT postcode to be able to visit Dorset’s coast.

In a letter to local MPs and the Chief Constable of Dorset Police, Cllr Slade said: “In Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole we have seen crowds on our beaches, in large groups clearly not from the same household.We have had council officers spat at, abused and intimidated as they go about their work and I am asking you all to go back to ministers in Westminster and ask them to put a travel restriction on England, as they have done in Wales and Scotland.”

Aside from the abuse, seafront staff reported numerous other examples of irresponsible behaviour at the weekend including the widespread use of barbecues and illegal parking.

The council also confirmed a “significant number” of individuals in tents were spoken to and/or evicted from the beach over the weekend.

In her letter, Cllr Slade said: “You will have seen that as councils we have done everything we can to prepare for visitors to our areas by opening car parks so people can park safely, by providing toilets so people can stay hygienic, by asking for increased patrols in public places including our parks and beaches.

“We are working hard to create social distancing plans for town centres so local people can shop, and businesses can begin to open and our economy begin to recover and we have supported our care homes and schools to prepare for the next stage of the roadmap.

“Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that people could travel wherever they liked as long as they did not stay out overnight, we discussed the possibility of limiting travel distance. We were told clearly that this was not possible.

“We shared our concerns about how we could manage an influx of visitors and it became obvious that as local authorities we had few powers, beyond closing some car parks but that we could not remove people from the area.”

Cllr Slade’s suggestion is that instead of a mileage limit on travelling, the restriction should be on an individual’s postcode. “For us it would be BH or DT,” she said. “This would enable people to travel to local parks, beaches and beauty spots, to get to shops, markets and schools or to travel to work. It would not be foolproof, but there would be some tolerance but it would enable us to do what we intended to do – to enable the 800,000 residents of Dorset to enjoy Dorset. This is a matter of urgency and I respectfully request that you escalate this and let me know the reaction.”