East Lothian Council stay away warning

Wednesday March 31st 2021

North-Berwick-Beach


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Visitors are being warned to stay out of East Lothian this bank holiday weekend as the local authority teams up with police to crack down on those from outside the county.

Concern over the number of people who will be tempted to head into the county over the Easter weekend has led East Lothian Council to issue a warning to people to stay in their own local authority area.

The county saw record numbers of visitors when lockdown was eased last summer as people headed to the coast and seaside towns.

However, the impact on local communities sparked concerns and the council has now set up a working group involving its officers and police to take action.

The Open Spaces Working Group will be able to monitor coastal car parks, opening up additional space or closing areas which are full, as well as cracking down on illegal or unsafe parking and checking where people have travelled from.

The council said that last year’s record number of visitors included people travelling into the county during periods of lockdown and causing disruption to local communities ranging from parking issues to “inappropriate use” of countryside sites.

It said there had been, on occasions, a lack of understanding of personal responsibilities under the Scottish Access Code which included high numbers of ‘wild campers’, open fires, litter and human waste, and uncertainty about social distancing requirements.

Tom Reid, the council’s head of infrastructure, said: “In the most recent announcements by the First Minister regarding easing of restrictions, the ‘stay at home’ regulations will be lifted on April 2 and replaced with guidance to stay local. This means that travel restrictions will continue to apply and people cannot travel outwith their local authority area unless for essential reasons.

“It is important to remember that the Scottish Government plans on easing restrictions currently advise an aspiration that all restrictions on journeys in mainland Scotland may be lifted from April 26.

“That is still a full month away and until this is confirmed we all still need to remain within our council area.

“We look forward to warmly welcoming visitors back when it is safe to do so. But at this time, we’re afraid it’s not possible for people to travel into East Lothian for non-essential purposes.”

Chief Inspector Neil Mitchell, Police Scotland’s Local Area Commander for East Lothian, said that additional officers would be patrolling to advise local residents and any visitors about the guidance.

He said: ”We are working with our partners to ensure of the safety of everyone and to minimise the disruption to the local community.

“We will have additional officers from local and national departments on patrol engaging with visitors and residents and we ask everyone to please continue to follow the Scottish Government’s guidance in relation to Covid-19”.

In line with the current ‘local lockdown’ requirements, Scottish Government FACTS posters and lamppost wraps will be displayed at popular sites across the county prior to Easter weekend.

In addition, new advisory signage will be added targeting those wild camping and advising on fires and barbecues, littering and appropriate ‘toilet’ usage.

The main theme is to reinforce a ‘leave no trace’ message.

Countryside rangers and community wardens will be present at popular coastal and inland countryside sites to advise visitors.

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