People are being warned to stay away from beaches in Southport, Ainsdale and Formby this weekend, while anyone caught with alcohol there could face fines starting at £50. 

Sefton Council is warning people planning on driving to its beaches this weekend that ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’ is what their day out could sound like as they sit in queues and drive around looking for a legitimate parking space.

The council is keen to prevent large numbers of people travelling to local beaches, which on previous weekends have seen visitors from as far afield as Manchester, Wigan and Birmingham.

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council has said he’s worried that people are ignoring Government advice and appear to be completely ignoring social distancing guidance. After the recent busy weekend for the beaches, which saw an average of 7,000 people on the beaches at any one time each day Cllr Maher warned that as well as risking their own safety, these visitors are also compromising the safety of our local residents.

Cllr Maher said: “Many people living in our coastal areas have experienced an increase in parked cars and we have worked with Merseyside Police to limit access to local roads.

“Also, we have done all we can to address the issue and our enforcement officers have been out issuing parking tickets to cars parked irresponsibly and dangerously during busy weekends but the high volume of vehicles and people can make it impossible for them to work safely.”

Cllr Maher warned that people who do decide to drive to Sefton’s beaches can expect to waste a lot of their day out queuing in hot cars, waiting and driving in circles looking for spaces to park legally, with fraying tempers and increasingly fractious families.

He said: “It’s not how I would choose to spend my weekend and I hope people will agree and take advantage of the attractions and greenspace near their homes.

Cars queueing at Ainsdale Beach in Southport. Photo by Susan Prue

Cars queueing at Ainsdale Beach in Southport. Photo by Susan Prue

“And I would ask those local people who do visit our coast and open spaces, to remain respectful, to take their litter home and not to light campfires or barbecues.”

Cllr Maher also pointed out that a Public Spaces Protection Order preventing the outdoor consumption of alcohol in areas of Formby and Ainsdale Beaches, Southport Promenade and town centre, Crosby & Waterloo including by the Marine Lake as well as Bootle and Formby town centres. The Order can be enforced by Police officers and authorised Council officers and fines for breaching it start at £50.

He also dismissed suggestions that the Council should close Sefton’s beaches pointing out that the Borough has 22 miles of coastline, with hundreds of individual access points, making it impossible.

The National Trust is also keen for people to avoid the seaside. 

They said: “We’re expecting a busy weekend, so we encourage you to stay local and avoid visiting Formby. Long traffic queues are likely, which creates problems for Formby residents and emergency services. High visitor numbers also increases the risk of creating hotspots that can put yourself and others at risk.

“If you do visit, take litter home with you or use the bins provided in the car parks.

“Be mindful of our local residents and park responsibly so that we’re helping our local emergency services and not creating headaches for those who live here.

“Our toilets are currently closed as we carry out work to make them safe to use.”

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