THE leader of BCP Council said he would not let the town be “overwhelmed” this summer as it was last year.

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Bournemouth last summer after the first lockdown was eased.

It resulted in a major incident being declared after the town struggled to cope with an influx of visitors.

But BCP Council said plans are in place to prevent it happening again.

Councillor Drew Mellor, leader, said: “We are a holiday area. We are proud of that, the livelihoods of many local people depend on the visitor economy, and we look forward to welcoming people back to our amazing towns and beaches, when the time is right.

“We will do whatever it takes to avoid a situation like last summer. Let’s be clear, the issue was not the number of people who came to our beaches.

“It was the combination of lockdown ending, furlough and the delayed ability to open up our services due to national restrictions, that resulted in our resorts being overwhelmed. We will not let that happen again.

“We have already begun extensive and enhanced plans for this year’s season. We will be upping our game so that when we do reopen we can do so in a way that keeps our residents, visitors and staff safe.

“As part of that preparation we’re working up a multi-partner resort management plan, making sure that lessons are learnt from last year.

“People visiting our towns and beaches this spring and summer will see additional enforcement to deal with issues around parking and anti-social behaviour, and extra security in place.

“We will be clear that the behaviours that we saw last year will not be tolerated, and that our team and our partners will take whatever action is necessary should similar antisocial behaviour be experienced.

“Anyone looking to spoil the enjoyment of others through inconsiderate behaviours will be told to go elsewhere, this is not the place for them.”

And hospitality bosses across the conurbation are preparing for a busy summer season when restrictions are lifted.

Rosie Radwell, managing director of the family-run Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth, said: “We had an influx of bookings about three weeks ago.

“We’ve just started doing some promotions because I had a feeling we would be open by the middle of April or beginning of May.

“If we don’t open by then, they would seriously need to give us some help.”

She said the emergency grants to businesses had not covered the costs of keeping her hotel mothballed, while coronavirus business interruption loans (CBILs) would only add to their debts an while the discounted five per cent VAT rate was no use when the business was closed.

“We’ve pretty much been open for 10-12 weeks of an entire year,” she said.

“We need some of kind of message in terms of when we’re going to open and what’s that’s going to look like,” she said.

Tim Seward, chairman of BH Area Hospitality (BAHA), added: “Bournemouth hoteliers are ready as and when it is safe to do so.

“We know there is pent-up demand for people to stay in the UK, especially coast and country.

“Our hoteliers remain positive and will reopen when we are allowed in line with government guidelines.”