Dorset

Bournemouth beach crowds: Three men stabbed near pier

Bournemouth beach on 25 June 2020 Image copyright PA Media
Image caption People have travelled to Bournemouth from as a far away as Birmingham

Three men were stabbed during a day of chaos which saw thousands of sun-seekers flock to Bournemouth beach, police have said.

"Stretched" authorities declared a major incident on Thursday as the Dorset coast was deluged with visitors.

Police said three men from London, all in their 20s, sustained stab wounds in an attack near Bournemouth Pier.

A petition has been started by locals to close the beaches for public health reasons.

Residents said they had "had enough" after the town's golden sands were left strewn with litter.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council declared a major incident in the early afternoon after reports of gridlocked roads, overcrowding on beaches and fighting.

Dorset Police said it was called to a report of stabbings at 21:44 BST and the three injured men were taken to hospital for treatment.

One man suffered a wound to his back, while a second sustained injuries to his face and the third was hurt in the chest and arm. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

The force has not made any arrests and has appealed for information.

'Blockade the roads'

Police have increased patrols in the area and local authority workers spent the night clearing the beaches of debris left by the influx of visitors.

Image copyright Getty Images/Finnbarr Webster
Image caption Residents volunteered to litter-pick on Frday after tonnes of waste were left on the sand overnight

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested beaches could be closed by the government if coronavirus infections rise.

Resident Sabrina Fitzsimons said: "This ludicrous behaviour in our home town has gone on long enough.

"It's time to close the beaches in the interest of public health and environmental protection.

"Local people have had enough...it's time for change. Blockade the roads, close car parks, monitor access. Whatever it takes but this has to stop."

Image copyright Dorset Devils
Image caption Lots of nitrous oxide bottles, or laughing gas, were found on Bournemouth beach

Her petition has so far gained 390 signatures and will to be sent to Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council leader Vikki Slade.

Resident Bethany Lewis wants to keep the beaches open to locals only.

She said: "We pay for a beach hut at Bournemouth, we live 10 minutes away from Bournemouth beach, why should we give up our beach just cause the government and local MPs can't handle the country? People need to stay within their postcode, that is that."

'Soul-destroying'

Lianne Sharpe said: "I live five minutes from the beach. I just want the traffic from out of town to stop. The cars were parked illegally on every available bit of street."

BCP Council said 33 tonnes of waste was cleaned up along the coastline on Thursday morning, along with eight tonnes collected between the piers on Wednesday.

Local volunteers turned up from 05:00 to help the seafront rangers clear up rubbish left on the beaches.

Local litter-picking group Dorset Devils said they found "hazardous waste nitrous oxide canisters, broken glass, nappies, wet wipes all on the beach", and "human-made toilets and a pair of men's underpants by the shoreline."

Image caption Council leader Vikki Slade was at Bournemouth beach this morning to assess the clean-up operation

Chris Poggi from the group called it "soul-destroying" to find more rubbish after collecting eight rubbish bags full.

'Absolutely disgraceful'

Dorset Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ian Girling called the scenes on Bournemouth beach "absolutely disgraceful", and part blamed it on "a worrying lack clarity from the government".

He said: "It would have been common sense to ask people to remain in their home counties while we recover from the crisis and to give places like Dorset time to prepare to welcome visitors back.

"The contradictions and mixed messaging in government advice has clearly led to a general disregard of the rules by many people."

He has called for "stronger messaging" for the public ahead of 4 July, when pubs and restaurants are allowed to reopen.

'We were well-prepared'

BCP Council leader, Vikki Slade, said the council had been "incredibly well-prepared" for the influx of beach-goers.

She said: "All our toilets were open, all of our traffic enforcement team were on duty, extra police were here, we've employed security guards for the beach to help with public order, there's very little else we could do without powers.

She added: "We asked weeks ago for powers to stop people travelling so far.

"There are six million people who were furloughed, of course they're going to want to come to the beach when the sun comes out."

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