Green Sefton bosses are pleased with how the first weekend went using its new Coastal Visitor Action Plan.
However, Sefton Council is still discouraging people from travelling to its coast and beaches and, with hot weather expected, is echoing the recent message from Liverpool City Region Leaders urging all residents to stay safe and think twice before leaving home.
After seeing large numbers of people travelling to locations along its 22-mile coastline during recent fine weather it has drawn up the new Coastal Action Plan. A range of measures including the installation of portable loos, skips for people to leave their litter and the re-opened parking on Ainsdale Beach helped achieve the council’s aim of keeping Sefton’s coastline safe for residents, visitors and its own employees.
Access & parking, facilities, public safety and clear communication are among the key elements of the plan, which covers the borough’s main coastal locations of Ainsdale, Crosby and Waterloo, Formby and Southport.
As well as re-opening Ainsdale Beach car park, ways of dealing with access and parking include Southport’s Esplanade Car Park, exploring more options for park and ride, using variable message signs and continuing with enforcement for illegal and inconsiderate parking.
Additional facilities for any influx of visitors contained in the plan include providing extra capacity for waste, more frequent emptying of litter bins, and issuing visitors with free rubbish sacks at peak times. There are also options for providing more public toilets, including the portable loos, in a way that is safe for users and the staff required to keep facilities clean and sterilised.
All of these measures will be introduced in line with Government guidance to ensure public and staff safety is paramount. Specific innovations such as a new cashless payment system for on-beach car parking and expanded staff welfare facilities to ensure social distancing will also be required.
Another planned measure is the continuation and extension of Beachsafe, which in previous years has seen the council, the National Trust, the RNLI, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Merseyside Police and British Transport Police all working in partnership to keep Sefton’s coastline safe for visitors and residents over the summer months.
And, communicating all of this work to visitors, to local residents and businesses and the employees of the council and its partners through the council’s various channels, including its My Sefton website @seftoncouncil Twitter Feed Sefton Council’s Facebook page and on Instagram.
Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “With people having travelled from as far afield as Manchester, Stoke, Birmingham and North Wales as well as from across the City Region it became clear that we needed to develop this plan.
“In it, we have proposed a wider range of measures to meet the requirements of residents, visitors and employees and our beautiful coastal environment while, at the same time, keeping them safe in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government’s national guidelines.
“The restrictions around coronavirus have amplified the issues our borough often experiences at coastal locations on busy summer weekends and Bank Holidays, particularly since the Government announced aspects of the lockdown were being eased and travel-distances and times for exercise and leisure extended.
“I am pleased to see that by drawing up the Visitor Plan and starting to implement it this weekend, during which we saw up to 300 cars parked on Ainsdale beach reducing pressure on local roads, has enabled the council to deliver benefits for residents and visitors alike.
“However, with a heatwave on the horizon, we are asking people not to travel to our coast and our beaches and I would like to echo the Liverpool City Region Leaders’ call for residents from across Merseyside and beyond to stay safe and think twice before leaving home.”
Over the past weeks, Sefton Council has used a variety of messages to try to discourage people from travelling to its coastline and to encourage those who do visit, to behave considerately and responsibly. This includes taking their rubbish home with them, refraining from lighting barbecues or fires and not taking glass bottles and other items onto the beach as they can cause fires and dangerous litter if left behind.
The council has also been reminding people that a Public Spaces Protection Order is in place preventing the outdoor consumption of alcohol in areas of Formby & 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.