Car parks closed at Basingstoke parks to stop people travelling to use them
The car parks at Eastrop Park, Crabtree Plantation and the Lime Pits are all being closed after people were seen sunbathing, having picnics and sitting in groups in these locations during the good weather and over last weekend.
Play parks and outside gyms have already been closed in line with government guidance to stop them spreading coronavirus through people using the equipment without washing their hands. But the council is having to inspect the parks and put up more signage after incidents of people removing ‘closed’ signs and even cutting padlocks to get in and use them.
There are also reports that people are continuing to use the Down Grange running track, ignoring signs that it has been closed to ensure people are observing social distancing when exercising.
People should be staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and should only be going out under government restrictions to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where absolutely necessary, to shop for essential items and for any medical or care needs.
Residents are still able to enjoy a daily walk or run to get essential exercise in the borough’s parks which remain open at present but should keep a two metre safe distance.
The stark warning from the council is that community safety patrollers and park staff will be monitoring the situation over the weekend and that if people continue to flout the restrictions and put themselves and others in danger during the pandemic, decisions may have to be taken about further restrictions.
Leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council Cllr Ken Rhatigan said: “We know this is a huge change to our lives and not how you would normally spend your Easter weekend but it is more important than ever that we all help to beat the coronavirus by following government guidance.
“We recognise the importance of daily exercise for mental and physical health and we have kept our parks open to help with this. But we would urge you to not put your health and the health of others at risk by being there for longer than you need to be and keeping two metres from others while you are exercising.
“I want to thank the large majority of our residents who continue to follow these guidelines but there are some who are still ignoring this advice. We have been forced to take further action to get this message across and stop people travelling to the parks from longer distances and using them for sunbathing, picnics and gatherings rather than just exercise.
“The parks also offer a vital place for those without gardens to walk or run to and round for exercise. I appeal to everyone to be fair and to save the lives of themselves, their families and people in their communities by doing the right thing. Lots of people can’t stay home this long weekend as they are working in the NHS saving lives or keeping other essential services going. The least you can do for them is to show your support by staying home and using the parks for essential exercise only.”
For more information about the council’s response to COVID-19, please visit www.basingstoke.gov.uk/coronavirus