Council chiefs 'monitoring situation' around coastal car parks amid calls over busy South Shields seafront
Council chiefs have defended keeping South Tyneside’s car parks open during the latest coronavirus lockdown – but say they are monitoring the situation ‘very closely’.
South Tyneside Council bosses say borough residents are permitted to undertake short journeys and that opened car parks were a safe way to facilitate that.
Their response came after complaints that seafront car parks in South Shields were jampacked over the weekend, encouraging visitors not to socially distance.
Tracy Rutherford posted on social media: “Must be lockdown bank holiday in South Shields.”
And a resident who contacted the Gazette, but who wished to remain anonymous, said: “There were crazy scenes.
“The car parks at Littlehaven and at the pier were crammed with people on Saturday, it was quite ridiculous.
“Having the car parks open is only encouraging people to leave their homes and to mingle with others – the clear advice from the Government is for them to stay at home.
“During the first lockdown last March the council closed them for safety reasons, I’m baffled why it hasn’t done the same this time.”
Council bosses are discouraging people from visiting the South Tyneside coastline and have reinforced that peoples’ ‘journeys kept as short and infrequent as possible’.
A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman said: “The national restrictions require people to stay at home as much as possible and to stay local if they do go out, such as for exercise.
“While South Tyneside is a great place to live and visit and our coastline is beautiful, we are not encouraging visitors at this time.
“This is in line with current government guidance which states that people must avoid travelling outside of their own village, town or the part of a city where they live, with any journeys kept as short and infrequent as possible.”
She added: “Our coastal car parks remain open for now. This helps us to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles while also addressing issues around people parking in residential areas.
“However, we continue to monitor the situation very closely and react to any changes in the government restrictions.
“In the meantime, if residents do go out then it is imperative that they follow the rules, particularly around social distancing.”