Dorset on ‘full standby’ as crowds head to the beach during heatwave

With the temperature set to soar, Dorset Council says it’s prepared for the expected visitors and has put in measures to ensure everyone can enjoy a safe trip to the beach.

Following several summers of record number of tourists flocking to Dorset’s beaches including Swanage, Studland and Lulworth, a multi-agency team has been set up to respond quickly to any emergency.

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Heading into Purbeck from the Sandbanks Ferry

Wessex Water roadworks

Alongside the expected crowds heading to the beach, there’s also Wessex Water roadworks along the main road between Poole and Sandbanks, which may delay vehicles from Studland getting off the ferry at Sandbanks.

This has led in the past, to long queues on the Studland side for the Sandbanks Ferry.

Ferry passengers should be aware that Sandbanks will be busy with events and roadworks

“Significant delays”

Poole Police said:

“This weekend also sees ticketed events for the SandPolo and SandFest on the beaches at this location. As a result, Sandbanks is set to be VERY BUSY.

“We recommend that unless you are visiting the area for one of these events, you avoid the area. There were significant delays on the 17th June when it was the hottest day of the year.

“This saw congestion backed up right around the peninsula. It is likely we will see similar issues this weekend, compounded by the ongoing emergency works.”

New towaway zone for Ferry Road in Studland. Drivers can still park for free in Ferry Road but their vehicle’s wheels mustn’t park over the yellow line

“We’ve got all the systems in place”

Dorset Council says it is working with Dorset Police and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to minimise the problems.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment said:

“We’re on full standby to respond to any emergency. With the hot weather forecast, we’re expecting a large number of visitors but I’ve been assured that we’ve got all the systems in place as if it was the start of the school holidays.

“In Studland, the vehicle towaway team will be making sure that the main road is kept clear and will be able to react quickly and the highway team will be closely monitoring traffic. The priority is to keep the roads as clear as possible to ensure emergency vehicles can get where they need to be.

“We’ve learnt a few lessons over the last few years and we started planning for this summer back in January.”

Cars parked in Ferry Road in Studland
Swanage Coastguard

In 2020 parked vehicles on Ferry Road made it difficult to get through

Car being removed by tow truck from Ferry Road in Studland (
Swanage Coastguard

By 2021 Dorset Council implemented the towaway zone on Ferry Road meaning that cars blocking the road could be legally removed

A number of emergency incidents

In 2020 and 2021 as lockdown lifted but with restrictions remaining on international travel, visitors from across the UK headed down to Dorset, some for the first time.

There were a number of emergency incidents, most notably at Durdle Door in Lulworth when the air ambulance and coastguard rescue helicopters had to land on the beach to get two seriously injured men to hospital after they jumped off the famous arch into the sea.

There was also chaos at Studland as vehicles parked along Ferry Road blocking access for emergency vehicles and the Purbeck Breezer buses got stuck.

People herded together on Durdle Door beach
Purbeck Police

In the summer of 2020 this incident at Durdle Door in Lulworth made national headlines when two men were seriously injured jumping of the limestone arch and had to be rushed to hospital in the midst of the pandemic

Multi-agency command centre

Now, a multi-agency command centre has been set up which includes Dorset Police, South Western Ambulance Service, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, as well as Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council. There’s also liaison with HM Coastguard and the RNLI.

Swanage Coastguard station manager, Ian Brown said:

“This June we had four callouts, compared to 40 in June 2021, and we’d like to keep it that way. We may be returning to more normal summers but we aren’t being complacent. We’ll be out over the weekend on our routine patrols making sure we can respond quickly to any emergency, alongside our partner agencies.

“When popping down to the seaside, just think ‘tide, wind, heat’. Check the tide, so you don’t get cut off on a beach, check the wind direction so if you’re on a paddleboard or similar that you don’t get blown out to sea and with the heat, make sure you’re protected from the sun and well hydrated.

“Remember that alcohol and hot weather don’t mix well and please don’t use disposable barbecues as they are a fire risk.

“Also it’s not worthwhile cutting costs on safety equipment on boats or paddleboards – always wear a buoyancy aid. Remember to take a mobile phone with you and that it’s easier to get a signal out to sea, away from overhanging cliffs.

“I’d also ask drivers to park responsibly – please don’t block roadways or gates. This can be one of our most significant issues when trying to get to an emergency and it may be your life that we are trying to save.”

Plea not to park in front of gates – this one at Studland allows emergency vehicles to access the beach at Shell Bay

Shell Beach at Studland

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue has just issued a new Amber wildfire alert and is asking people to take a picnic rather than light a disposable barbecue or camp fire

“We have planned for key dates and events this summer and will ensure we have a visible presence”

Inspector Danny Tamblyn, of Dorset Police, added:

“We appreciate that our county is a popular destination especially during spells of nice weather.

“As our residents and visitors would expect us to, we work closely with our partner agencies to manage resources so we can keep our communities and visitors safe, preventing crime and disorder.

“We will support local authorities, who are responsible to respond to traffic congestion and highway issues and urge people, before visiting Dorset, please plan ahead so you know where you can park and find somewhere else to park considerately and safely if you find car parks full. Respect communities by not blocking driveways or parking on pavements.

“We have planned for key dates and events this summer and will ensure we have a visible presence, working closely with partners and key stakeholders to ensure Dorset is a safe county for those who live here and those who are visiting us to enjoy our beautiful beaches.”

Knoll Beach
Knoll Beach at Studland

Visitors to Knoll Beach in Studland are guaranteed a warm welcome this weekend!

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