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Enjoy our beaches safely this summer – joint plea for visitors to be respectful at Sefton’s coast

A number of organisations across Sefton are joining forces once again this summer to ensure local communities, and visitors from across the North West, can enjoy Sefton’s coastlines safely as coronavirus restrictions ease further.

Take personal responsibility at the coast

The joint action also aims to encourage people to take personal responsibility at the coast. Asking them to plan how they are going to get to the beach, to take all litter home with them and to show respect and kindness to staff, the environment and fellow visitors.

It also sets out the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable at the coast to keep everyone safe. Such as that fires and BBQs are not allowed anywhere; that there are water safety risks at the coast so people should follow the advice of lifeguards; and that anti-social behaviour simply isn’t acceptable.

Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership

The agencies who make up the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership are making the joint plea and will be sharing important messages covering many of the issues faced on the Sefton coast throughout the school summer holidays.

Members of the partnership include Sefton Council, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, National Trust Formby, Natural England, the RNLI and other key partners like Merseyrail.

Already this year there has been a huge influx of visitors to local beaches during fine weather and out of school term times. It is anticipated that with people still planning staycations this year, many will be looking to enjoy spending time at the Sefton coast.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “First and foremost, the Sefton Coast is an internationally protected nature reserve and we need your help to keep it that way. So, when people are planning their day trips this summer, we need them to be well prepared and to play their own vital role in ensuring that the coast remains a great place to enjoy spending time.

“Please listen to what we are collectively saying with our partners, be that important water safety information, fire risk concerns, travel advice or environmental issues around litter and wildlife.”

Covid-19 still with us

While outdoor spaces are safer for people to spend time and interact with others this summer, the easing of restrictions should still be met with continued caution as Sefton’s Public Health lead outlined last week.  

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “COVID-19 continues to be with us in Sefton and that presence will continue after Monday 19th July but if we all continue to take the precautions that could protect ourselves and others, we can carefully continue down the path back to normality.”

Meanwhile the Council’s Green Sefton team and its partners have important messages for all beach visitors this summer season.

All need to be responsible and considerate

Mark Shaw, Green Sefton Service Manager, at Crosby beach
Mark Shaw, Green Sefton Service Manager, at Crosby beach

Mark Shaw, Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service Manager, said: “We are ready and well prepared to welcome people back to our beaches safely again this summer, but we ask in return that they behave responsibly and with consideration to each other, local residents, our staff and our beautiful environment.

“Joining forces once more with fellow land owners and emergency services means that we are doing our bit to keep everyone safe and create a positive atmosphere for those choosing to come to our beaches. But our visitors themselves really are the other key players in this partnership.”

Sefton Community Police Superintendent Graeme Robson said: “This summer, officers will be on foot, in vehicles and on quad bikes across the Sefton coastline and at local beauty spots. We know we’re lucky to have this on our doorstep and we want everyone to be able to enjoy it.

“Anyone acting antisocially or drinking alcohol at our beaches will be dealt with by police in a robust manner. Please plan visits carefully and give attention when parking by considering local residents. It’s also vital that we protect the local environment by not starting fires and by taking any litter home with us.”

Protect precious wildlife and habitats

Beach safety banner at Ainsdale
Beach safety banner at Ainsdale

Amy Peacock, Property Operations Manager at National Trust Formby, said: “This summer we’re here to welcome people who love to visit Formby, whilst caring for all the wonderful wildlife at this special nature haven.

“On busy days our car parks can fill up quickly. We close our car parks to visitors once they are full to help us make sure that Formby is a safe environment for everyone who visits us. We recommend that visitors to Formby beat the queues and travel by train, or perhaps plan their visit for a quieter day. We’re open seven days a week all year round.

“Together we can create an enjoyable experience for everyone and protect precious wildlife by being mindful of nature and the people around us.”

Dave Mercer, Senior Reserve Manager for Natural England, said: “The Sefton coast is an amazing place to visit and one of the most important areas in the country for wildlife; it is home to many rare plants and insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and many species of birds.

“Please bear this in mind when you visit this summer and follow the countryside code by keeping dogs under control, taking litter home and refraining from lighting fires and BBQs. If you can visit on foot, by bike or train to reduce the number of cars, especially in hot weather, that will be a great help as will following advice from the emergency services and site staff who are here to help you safely enjoy the beach, dunes and pinewoods and if you are lucky, see some of the wildlife that lives here.”

Water safety

Close up of new water safety signage at Crosby beach
Close up of new water safety signage at Crosby beach

Michael Buratti, Senior Coastal Operations Officer for HM Coastguard, said: “Even though the weather is warming up, please take extra care before taking a plunge in the sea as it can still be chilly and bring on cold water shock.

“It also pays to check the wind, weather and tides before setting out and observe local safety advice such as avoiding soft patches of mud on the beach, ensuring dogs are on leads, going to a lifeguarded beach where possible and carrying a fully-charged mobile phone, so you’re able to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard if anyone is in trouble.”

Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead in the North West, said: “Our advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach where possible and to swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards offer advice on how to stay safe and help anyone who gets into trouble. Whether you’re at a lifeguarded beach or not, look out for safety signage and seek advice on safe places to swim, always keep your children under supervision and avoid swimming alone where possible.

“Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space, but they can be an unpredictable environment, particularly during early summer when air temperatures start warming up, but water temperatures remain very cold, increasing the risk of cold-water shock.”

Other ways to travel to the beach – not just by car

Suzanne Grant, Commercial Director at Merseyrail, said: “During the summer months we see a large influx of passengers travelling on our network to beauty spots such as Formby beach and we do all that we can to keep passengers safe including running six-car trains wherever possible.

“By working with our partners in the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership we want to ensure that everyone visiting the coast can enjoy it safely and responsibly.

“This includes being respectful of passengers and staff while travelling. So please listen to our staff who will issue advice where needed and be on-hand to deal with any concerns you have, ensuring you have a wonderful day out.”

People can follow the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership agencies Twitter accounts for more advice, news and videos throughout the summer: @SeftonCouncil @MerseyFire @MerseyPolice @RNLI @MCA_media @BTPMersey @NaturalEngland @NTFormby @Merseyrail

The continued work of the partnership will also be communicated through the Council’s My Sefton website, Sefton Council’s Facebook page  and on Instagram Sefton_Council.