Studland becomes beach ‘overflow’ as Bournemouth declared a major incident

As half a million people jammed on to Bournemouth’s beach and packed out Sandbanks, beach-goers who couldn’t find space, flocked to Studland, blocking Ferry Road and forcing the Sandbanks Ferry Company to remind people not to use its property as a toilet.

Defying advice to stay away from busy beach areas, groups of friends and families turned up regardless on Thursday 25th June 2020, resulting in a major incident being declared in Bournemouth.

Rubbish on Bournemouth beach
BCP Council

The rubbish left on Bournemouth Beach on Wednesday evening

“Absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches”

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council Leader, Vikki Slade said:

“We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours.

“The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe. We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.”

BCP Council said its services were left completely over stretched as visitors arrived in large volumes resulting in widespread problems of illegal parking, excessive waste, anti-social behaviour, gridlock on roads and prohibited overnight camping.

It said it issued 558 parking enforcement fines – the highest on record – and responded to many reports of cars parking and causing an obstruction.

Police close Sandbanks car park
Poole Police

Sandbanks Beach car park was closed on Thursday by Poole Police to prevent any more cars trying to park in the already full car park

Motorists taking the Sandbanks Ferry over to Studland

With Bournemouth packed out and the Sandbanks Beach car park full, many motorists took the Sandbanks Ferry over to Studland in the hope of finding some space on a beach. Quickly the National Trust car parks were full and people started to park on Ferry Road.

Swanage Fire Station, called to reports of disposable barbecues in the dry grassland and dunes in Studland, said:

“At several points along Ferry Road, it was single car width only. If a serious incident happened emergency service would really struggle along there. Please think before you park.”

Cars parked in Ferry Road in Studland
Swanage Coastguard
Cars parked in Ferry Road in Studland
Swanage Coastguard

“Over a thousand cars have been reported in the area”

Swanage Coastguard, who was assisting the fire crew, reported:

“Today’s patrol headed to Studland but we were seriously hampered by poor parking on the ferry road. Over a thousand cars have been reported in the area, with police ticketing vehicles that are blocking emergency access routes.”

Bike chained to emergency exit in Studland
Swanage Fire Station

A bike is left chained to a gate, blocking an emergency route

For a second evening running, the Sandbanks Ferry could not take vehicles from Studland to Sandbanks

Traffic gridlock in Sandbanks, meant that for a second evening running, the Sandbanks Ferry could not take vehicles from Studland to Sandbanks, as the slipway on the Sandbanks side was blocked by cars and so the ferry could not offload vehicles.

Sandbanks Ferry Company posted on social media at 10 pm on Thursday 26th June 2020:

“The slipway on the Poole side is blocked up again due to traffic in Sandbanks. We have a full ferry and nowhere to unload. It is unlikely we’ll be able to carry traffic from Studland over to Poole again tonight – but if we can, we will.”

As frustrated motorists were again left stranded in Studland, the ferry company also had to post this message:

“We’d also like to remind everyone on the Studland side that we have CCTV, and if you use our property as a toilet, we have you and your registration number on camera. Thank you!”

Fire truck at Studland
Swanage Fire Station

“Lots of people are still having barbecues”

With people still on the beach into the evening, Swanage Fire Station continued to patrol Studland in its Land Rover. It said:

“Lots of people are still having barbecues and were politely asked to extinguish them, which everyone did without any hassle. The ground and grassland is still very dry at the moment. There’s a risk of a few showers over the next few days but that will do little to dampen the dry conditions.”

Barbecue on Studland beach
Swanage Fire Station

“We can take actions available to us to safeguard the public”

Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya, of Dorset Police, said:

“The declaration of a major incident allows us to bring agencies together so we can take actions available to us to safeguard the public as much as possible.

“We are also reliant on people taking personal responsibility and strongly advise members of the public to think twice before heading to the area. Clearly we are still in a public health crisis and such a significant volume of people heading to one area places a further strain on emergency services resources.

“This influx of visitors to our area places a significant increase in demand on our service and we would ask people to please bear with us.

“We would therefore stress again that we are asking people to please stay away from the area.”

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.

Community comments