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Southend Council is urging people to think twice before visiting Southend-on-Sea this bank holiday weekend.
Good weather and the relaxing of lockdown regulations by the Government has already resulted in crowded beaches despite the continued need for social distancing.
The council is backing a campaign by local train companies and Rochford and Southend East MP, James Duddridge to ‘Don’t travel, stay local’ to ensure that public transport remains available for use by those who really need it.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council said: “We want people to think twice before visiting and ask if their journey here is really necessary?
“For many weeks we ran a successful Don’t Visit Southend campaign, but the Government’s lifting of restrictions have put us in a very difficult position as day trips and sunbathing are allowed, and takeaways can be open for business.
“However, people do need to know that many of our attractions are shut, and parking and public toilets are more limited than usual to allow for greater distancing and sanitation. Any visitors will therefore find a very different environment than usual at this time.
“We want our local areas to be available to local people, and so also support the local travel campaign saying ‘don’t travel, stay local.’
“For those who do still decide to come despite all this, you must stay safe and stay apart and take some personal responsibility for this too.”
Seafront car parks have reopened, but parking bays are suspended along Western Esplanade to enable the contraflow system that is in place to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety said: “Since the Government announced its relaxation measures, stay safe, stay apart, has been our very clear message to anyone living in or visiting our borough.
“We have also worked hard to put in place measures to allow people to use the seafront safely if they do come.
“We have widened the promenade for more pedestrians, installed a traffic contraflow, and have additional council staff and volunteers working along the seafront to assist the public and encourage them to observe social distancing.
“But given the national position, there is only so much we can do and a large burden of responsibility also falls upon individuals to follow the Government guidance, use their common sense and social distance appropriately.
“If the beach is busy then please think twice and ask yourself if you really want to be on it or not.”
A number of staff will be working across the weekend, including community safety officers, parking enforcement officers, marshals and colleagues from Essex Police. Beach welfare officers and ‘stay safe stay apart’ volunteer marshals will also be in place.
Together, this combined team will be on hand to offer help and advice to people, encourage social distancing, and help with central seafront toilet queue management and sanitation.