Warning East Devon parks and open spaces could be shut over rubbish behaviour and groups ignoring social distancing rules

Open spaces in East Devon could be shut to tackle bad behaviour, groups ignoring social distancing rules and litter-louts, the district council has warned.

Manor Gardens in Exmouth had to be closed at the weekend after boozy beachgoers – moved on from the seafront by police – headed to the park.

Large amounts of rubbish being left at beauty spots has also prompted a flurry of complaints.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) says its beaches, parks and public spaces are ‘busier than ever’ after lockdown restrictions were eased.

The authority has in turn seen ‘exceptional levels of demand’ on services such as street cleaning, litter bin collections and toilets.

It has asked residents and visitors to help keep areas tidy and stick to the two-metre social distancing rule.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “We have received many reports of rubbish being left on our beaches and in our parks and gardens and we would appeal to visitors to collect their litter as they leave these areas, take it home and recycle it.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy these beautiful places and not have them blighted by a minority of people who leave their litter behind.

“With no lifeguards on Exmouth beach currently, signage is being displayed to remind visitors to stay safe around the water.

“However, large groups are congregating on beaches across the district, ignoring social distancing restrictions and government guidelines of no more than six people gathering at one time.

“The council is working with the police to educate and advise these groups on how their actions are impacting on others.

“At the weekend, the council had to close Manor Gardens in Exmouth at the request of the police as there were concerns about the antisocial behaviour of people drinking on the beach, being moved on by the police, and settling in the gardens instead.

“The council will continue to work with the police and consider closing open spaces if people are not behaving responsibly.”

Councillor Geoff Jung, portfolio holder for coast, country and environment, said: “We’re finding that levels of demand on our services are equal to the busiest of summer holiday days.

“Currently our staff is reduced by 20 per cent due to coronavirus and our budgets have been severely impacted by the pandemic.”

Exmouth Town ward member Cllr Olly Davey added: “We welcome visitors to our wonderful beach, but ask you to remember that we are still required to comply with government measures to keep everyone safe.

“Please act responsibly and leave our town as you would hope to find it, taking your litter home if need be.”

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