BOURNEMOUTH and Poole’s beaches have been left without deckchairs and sun loungers this summer over fears of ‘anti-social behaviour and violence’.

A senior BCP Council member said she had been told the decision to not have the seafront rental offering would see the local authority miss out on £200,000 this year.

Councillor Vikki Slade, former leader of the unitary authority, told the Daily Echo she had repeatedly quizzed council officers over the absence of the deckchairs in recent months.

The Liberal Democrat, who represents Broadstone ward, said one reply said beachgoers could use the benches on the promenade instead and that concerns had surfaced after busy weekends earlier in the year.

When pressed over why the decision had been taken, Cllr Slade said she was told there were initial concerns over Covid, but the main factor was fears about the furniture being used as a weapon.

“I am absolutely gobsmacked,” said Cllr Slade.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Vikki SladeCllr Vikki Slade

“We have a council spending large sums on barbecues, proposals for £90,000 on mayoral cars, while £200,000 is being let go from deckchairs people actually want and it could well have been more given how busy it has been. It is beyond a joke.”

Cllr Slade said she had been told the deckchairs and sun loungers will be back in 2022, but added that it was a “wasted opportunity”.

“How many toilet blocks could have been refurbished with that money,” said Cllr Slade.

“We have got a paddling pool that doesn’t work again.”

Dorset Police were not consulted over if they had crime concerns related to deckchairs and sun loungers, a BCP Council spokesperson said.

Bournemouth Echo: Deckchair and sun lounger hire reportedly brings in £200,000 a year for the councilDeckchair and sun lounger hire reportedly brings in £200,000 a year for the council

“As part of our seasonal response planning earlier in the year, the decision was made not to hire out our deckchairs or sun loungers this year,” said the local authority spokesperson.

“The wellbeing and safety of our staff, residents and visitors was a priority in this decision.

“Unfortunately Covid-19 brought a lot of issues to the forefront last year, with the overcrowding on the beaches and the subsequent problems that arose prompting us to make these necessary changes.

“The seasonal response budget that was put in place to help with these challenges has enabled us to successfully reopen in line with government guidance, with visitors once again enjoying our beautiful coastline.”