Beach goers advised to ‘plan ahead’ and consider alternative days out as Sefton prepares for Bank Holiday weekend
With the May Bank Holiday weekend approaching, Sefton Council and its partners are encouraging people to consider alternative destinations to its famous beaches.
Mark Shaw, Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service Manager, said: “We understand that that with the recent re-opening of gyms and personal care services, people might be feeling beach ready and want to visit our coastline.
“However, we are urging people to plan ahead so that they can make the most of their Bank Holiday weekend safely, and this includes considering alternative destinations to avoid the pressure and risks of overcrowded areas for everyone.”
Those planning to get out and about over the Bank Holiday Weekend may want to consider a visit to one of Sefton’s parks where playgrounds and sports facilities offer a space for people of all ages to spend time outdoors. Or similarly, a visit to a local high street or town centre for a spot of shopping or a bite to eat will help to support businesses who’ve just reopened in line with Covid-19 measures.
Like last year, Sefton Council has put a Visitor Action Plan in place specifically for its coastline. The Plan outlines measures to manage increased demand at the coast to meet the needs of residents, visitors and its staff while at the same time protecting the Borough’s unique but fragile natural environment.
It has been developed in line with Covid-19 guidelines and reinforces the Council’s commitment to working alongside other partners, such as land owners and emergency services, that also serve the Sefton coast.
Visitors looking to head to the coast are being encouraged to explore travel options such as walking or cycling to avoid traffic jams and delays. And drivers are being urged to be considerate to local residents when parking and to avoid fines by using official parking spaces only.
Once at the beach, people can help to keep each other and Council staff safe, by following Covid-19 guidance. This means sticking to groups of six or two households and practising social distancing. They can also play their part in protecting the beaches and keeping the coast’s precious wildlife safe by taking all their litter home and by not lighting fires or BBQs anywhere at the coast.
Mark Shaw added: “We developed the Visitor Action Plan about this same time last year after seeing a huge influx of visitors at weekends, Bank Holidays and on weekdays too.
“As a result, we have introduced additional facilities at our four coastal gateways such as beach car parking options, temporary toilets, large litter bins and more staff and volunteers to cater for them.
“But we hope that now other outdoor attractions are open where people can catch up with friends and loved ones for safe days out, we will not be so busy.”
Anyone still planning a visit to the Sefton coast should visit www.sefton.gov.uk/beaches to find out about travel options and facilities at its beaches and to read the full Visitor Action Plan for 2021.
Sefton Community Policing Chief Inspector Mike O’Malley said: “Officers will continue to be out on patrol along the Sefton coastline this weekend to offer guidance to the public and ensure people are adhering to Covid guidelines.
“Now there are a wider number of outdoor settings and attractions open, we hope people who are able to will consider enjoying these – in turn taking some of the pressure off our local beauty spots. Police will be working with partners to ensure seating rules are being followed at venues with outdoor seating areas.
“Anyone acting antisocially at our beaches should expect to be dealt with by police in a robust manner. Please also plan any visits carefully and give attention when parking – those found to be parking illegally or without consideration for residents will be dealt with by our patrols in partnership with the Local Authority.
“It’s also vital that we protect the local environment as much as we can. This includes not starting fires and taking any litter home with you.
“Officers will be on foot, in vehicles and on quad bikes across the Sefton coastline including Formby, Ainsdale and Crosby beaches, as well as parks and beauty spots including Formby nature reserve.”
Joe Cunliffe, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager, said: “We appreciate that the public want to have fun and enjoy the Sefton coastline over the Bank Holiday, particularly in light of the continued easing of lockdown restrictions – but our priority must be the safety of visitors, staff and the local community.
“By planning ahead and following clear guidance, we can avoid creating fire risks and increasing demand on our emergency services during this global pandemic. Parking responsibly and giving our fire engines room to get through can help crews reach an incident without delay or complication, minimising loss of life and risk of further damage to the environment and wildlife habitats.
“We would like to remind people that during periods of hot and dry weather, the risk of fires in public areas increase. Though some fires are accidental, unfortunately, most are anti-social behaviour fires that are deliberately started, which is arson.
“Please remember that if you are visiting the Sefton coastline disposable BBQs and campfires are not allowed anywhere on the beaches, the dunes, or the woods. Please take your rubbish home with you, don’t drop cigarettes or leave bottles on the ground – these could become the cause of a fire.
“If you see fire, report it immediately by calling 999, ask for the Fire Service and give as much detail as possible including the nearest main road – this will help crews mobilise and fight fires as quickly as possible.”
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s Marine Rescue Unit is working alongside the RNLI to remind people across the North West heading to the coast this Bank Holiday to take beach safety seriously. To always check the weather and tides before planning a visit as there has been an increase in call outs of people getting stuck in the mud and cut off by tides.
More on how the RNLI is keeping Sefton’s beach goers safe can be found on their website https://rnli.org/safety/beach-safety and people are reminded not to enter the water to help a person or an animal in distress but to call 999 for help.
Vicky Blane, General Manager National Trust Formby, said: “Formby is a popular nature haven for people and wildlife. It’s often extremely busy on sunny days and during holiday periods. Long traffic queues can be frustrating for visitors and put pressure on the residential roads of this small town. We recommend parking at Lifeboat Road for the beach as there’s more space.
“If car parks are full, we’re urging visitors to consider alternative destinations and plan their visit to Formby for another day, so we can continue to open safely. We’re open 7 days a week, all year round.
“We’re also encouraging visitors to come prepared and bring a bag to collect up their rubbish and take home or drop off in the large car park bins. Together we can create a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone and protect Formby’s precious wildlife”.
The Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership members include Sefton Council, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, British Transport Police, National Trust Formby, Natural England, the RNLI and others who want to ensure the safety of visitors and residents.