Day trippers from 'miles away' 'invade' village for beauty spot walk

Day trippers from 'miles away' 'invade' village for beauty spot walk

Day trippers invade pretty village for trip to beauty spot ‘from miles away’ despite Covid lockdown rules urging people to stay local

  • Furious residents say ‘carloads’ of visitors have been descending on High Spen
  • The village, near Gateshead, is close to entrance of beauty spot Chopwell Wood
  • Footage shows cars lining usually quiet village streets as people go for a walk
  • In England, people are allowed to leave home for exercise but must stay local 

Day trippers have been accused of ‘invading’ a small village from ‘miles away’, despite Covid lockdown rules which urge people to stay local.

Furious residents say ‘carloads’ of visitors have been descending on tiny High Spen, near Gateshead, in order to visit nearby beauty spot Chopwell Wood. 

Pictures and video show streets lined with parked cars – with almost every available space taken along what residents say are usually empty streets.

The footage was recorded on Saturday, as locked-down Britons looked for ways to entertain themselves with shops, bars and restaurants closed.

But while people are allowed out of their homes to exercise under current lockdown rules in England, the Government says the outdoor activity must be carried out in their local area.

Many in the village argue that those who had to drive in should not count the woods as local.

They also fear the influx of visitors could put vulnerable residents at risk. 

Local Steph Davies Morely who recorded the video along with Jessica Fenwick, said: ‘My son and I were parked on the road due to our driveway being to dangerous to use [due to snow].

Furious residents say ‘carloads’ of visitors have been descending on tiny High Spen, near Gateshead, in order to visit nearby beauty spot Chopwell Wood

Pictures and video show streets lined with parked cars – with almost every available space taken along what residents say are usually empty streets

The footage was taken on Saturday, as locked-down Britons looked for ways to entertain themselves with shops, bars and restaurants closed

‘We were heading for a Covid test when we saw all the cars.

‘[It’s] so selfish and saddening! As someone who is shielding I’m honestly heartbroken to see this.’

Meanwhile, a 57-year-old woman who lives in the village, and asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘Our village of High Spen has been invaded. I am totally disgusted by selfish people ignoring Covid rules.

‘I understand that people are allowed exercise, but this was taking it to the extreme.

‘We are supposed to be in lockdown, that rule didn’t apply [on Saturday] in High Spen. It’s getting everybody so angry in the village, it’s totally against the rules.

What is a ‘reasonable excuse’ for going outside? And can police force their way into your house if they suspect rules are being broken?

Under the rules in England, you must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. 

The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes: 

  • Work – you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home
  • Volunteering – you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services
  • Essential activities – you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating
  • Education and childcare – you can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. 
  • Meeting others and care – you can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people
  • Exercise – you can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble, and not outside your local area. The Government advises you should only leave for exercise once a day, but the law does not put a limit on this. 
  • Medical reasons – you can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies
  • Harm and compassionate visits – you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). 
  • You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment
  • Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment
  • Communal worship and life events – You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony.

There are further reasonable excuses. 

For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

In Scotland, coronavirus legislation gives police the power to force entry into people’s homes if they have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ rules are being broken. 

However, in England, they can only enter in ‘exceptional circumstances’, which includes if they believe someone inside is infectious. 

Otherwise, they will require a warrant. 

The local said there had been a ‘constant stream’ of cars coming from surrounding areas, including South Shields – 25 miles away.  

She added: ‘I appreciate everyone wants exercise but it’s just defeating the object of the lockdown.

‘There are carloads coming in. I’ve been watching people coming out of the cars and you see whole families waiting for each other.

‘We’ve got people in the village who are shielding, who can’t go out for any exercise because there are so many people.’

She said the heavy traffic through the village was especially worrying on Saturday, as icy, snowy conditions made driving difficult, and she feared busy roads could have caused accidents.

‘The poor emergency services have enough to deal with on a treacherous day, without potential road traffic accident,’ she added.

It comes as yesterday officers banned sledging in one town, while a deputy police chief warned fed-up members of the public were growing sick and tired of the strict lockdown and finding ways to break the rules.

Officers in the seaside resort of Whitby, North Yorks, struck out after hearing reports people had gone to neighbouring areas to enjoy fun in the snow.

The force posted: ‘We are receiving reports that people are journeying to Goathland and the surrounding areas to sledge.

‘This is in contravention of the current lockdown and government guidelines around necessary travel and the public should not attend and risk a fine.’

It came as officers also threatened to fine people throwing snowballs in the West Mercia area.

The Broseley and Much Wenlock division of West Mercia Police tweeted last week: ‘There have been two reports of snowballs being thrown last night between 11 and 11.30pm.

‘This is obviously not a justifiable reason to be out of your house, this behaviour is likely to result in a £200 Fixed Penalty Notice for breaking the lockdown rules.’

Down south officers discovered two families in as many cars had travelled 150 miles from Coventry to Dorset to go to the beach.

The sightseers had gone from the East Midlands city to the picturesque Lulworth Estate in Dorset only for their day out to be scuppered.

In Lincoln, police fined a man from Chesterfield who it emerged had set a personal goal to try and visit every football ground in the country, despite clear stay-at-home rules.

The driver was pulled over by officers yesterday, close to the cathedral, after a system check revealed the vehicle was registered to an address outside of Lincolnshire.

But when asked what he was doing, police were left bewildered by his response.

Sgt Mike Templeman wrote on Twitter: ‘The vehicle was stopped as it was registered in Chesterfield.

‘The driver stated he was having a road trip to football grounds around the country having left Chesterfield yesterday.

‘You simply couldn’t make it up. Covid-19 penalty ticket issued along with the strongest words of advice.’

Some police forces have found themselves under fire over their enforcement of guidelines, despite Home Secretary Priti Patel backing their actions.

Friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, both 27, were hit with a £200 fine after driving five miles from their home for a walk with a cup of tea officers classed as picnic. The fine was later overturned.  

Meanwhile, hundred-strong crowds lining the streets of Crosby for local team Marine AFC’s tie with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday saw no punishment metered out.

Members of the public questioned why officers appeared to be hitting individuals harder than some groups.

Gary Blackburn said: ‘If they want people to completely lockdown they should say it rather than hiding behind leaks and the police.

‘Arresting or fining easy targets for having walks with a coffee etc is pathetic.’

Hardyal Dhindsa, Police and Crime Commissioner of Derbyshire Police, admitted officers ‘may get it wrong’ when handing out fines to lockdown rule-breakers and that a recent incident in the county could have been dealt with differently. 

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said officers had a ‘very difficult job in really trying circumstances’, with the ‘ever-changing’ Covid-19 restrictions.

He said: ‘It’s no wonder that in circumstances like this, sometimes when they are trying to do the best job they can they may get it wrong.’

When asked whether it was wrong, he said: ‘Having looked at it, listening to what I know, it looks as if that we might’ve have been able to deal with it differently. 


Hardyal Dhindsa and Paul Netherton have both said the public are are tiring from lockdown

‘But it’s an operational matter, I’ve asked the chief constable to review these cases and if the police acted in error, then the fines can be rescinded by them.’

He said if an error was found to be made then the police force ‘was big enough’ to apologise.

‘In the main, when police are engaging with the public, the public are very compliant and are following guidance.

‘If you think of the hundreds and thousands of calls to police on Covid-19, the number of fixed penalty notices given out are small.

Is that really your local area, Boris? Prime Minister faces questions over his OWN lockdown rules after being spotted cycling SEVEN MILES from Downing Street in the Olympic Park 

Boris Johnson faced questions yesterday after it emerged he went cycling in the Olympic Park over the weekend.

The PM was spotted wearing a hat and a face mask at the park seven miles away from Downing Street on Sunday.

A source told the Evening Standard that Mr Johnson was exercising, accompanied by his security detail.

However, official Government guidance says exercise should be limited to once a day and ‘you should not travel outside your local area’.

A source told the Standard the PM was exercising, adding: ‘But he did note how busy the park was and he commented on it at the meeting last night.

‘He was concerned about if people were following the rules and was concerned after his cycle ride around the park.’

The PM’s spokesman was unable to give any information today on why Mr Johnson had gone to Stratford and why it was within the rules.

‘The problem is how are the lockdown rules and regulations in place, and the review of them is something that needs to be looked at.

‘This lockdown is not the same as the lockdown that happened in March.

‘If you look at traffic on our roads it’s still quite high, because people are still going to work.

‘The activity on your roads and in our spaces is much more than the lockdown we had in March.’

Meanwhile, Paul Netherton, Deputy Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, said people were getting ‘fed up’ of lockdown restrictions and compliance from the public has dipped.

‘What’s happening is people are beginning to flout the rules, they are beginning to think ‘how can I get away with the rules?’,’ he told BBC Breakfast.

When asked whether it was harder to get people to comply with rules in the current lockdown compared to previous ones, he said: ‘Yes, I think people are beginning to get fed up with it.

‘I can understand that but we have to be firm, we have to save lives, we have to make sure people are keeping apart, isolating and staying at home.’ 

Home Secretary Priti Patel has backed police taking tough actions in the pandemic.

She said over the weekend: ‘The vast majority of the public have supported this huge national effort and followed the rules.

‘But the tragic number of new cases and deaths this week shows there is still a need for strong enforcement where people are clearly breaking these rules to ensure we safeguard our country’s recovery from this deadly virus.

‘Enforcing these rules saves lives. It is as simple as that. Officers will continue to engage with the public across the country and will not hesitate to take action when necessary.’

Warwickshire Police this week revealed how many Covid fines it had dished out and for what reasons.

The fines included two people reported after they were found training at a gym in Nuneaton on Friday afternoon.

People were reported for fines following a report of a house party in Nuneaton on Friday night as well as one householder reported for a party with 15-20 people in Polesworth on Saturday.

There were also three people who got into trouble after having visitors to their homes. 

Meanwhile a pub landlord who hands out free meals to homeless people was visited by the authorities after giving out a free pint in the latest example of heavy enforcement in the national lockdown.  

Colin Robinson, the landlord of the Chestnut Tree Inn pub in Lansdowne Road, said police were called to the pub and officers took down his name before leaving.

Colin Robinson, the landlord of the Chestnut Tree Inn pub in Worcester, was visited by police

Mr Robinson said he had given a pint to a delivery man and then visited by officers

He told Worcester News: ‘Yes, we had two people in here. One person was delivering a barrel of beer, one was doing some music in the recording studio. I gave the guy a pint because he brought back a barrel which he owed me, and the other was upstairs with the music system.’  

Don’t stop to chat to friends, says minister 

A minister has hit out at people who are flouting lockdown by stopping to chat to friends they meet while out ‘exercising’. 

Nadhim Zahawi voiced alarm at the pictures of people congregating in parks over the weekend in a round of interviews this morning.

The vaccines minister refused to give a guarantee that the current ‘tough’ lockdown restrictions are sufficient and raised concerns of people not sticking to the rules in supermarkets or when exercising outside.

Pressed on whether the current restrictions are enough, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We don’t want to use tougher measures, the lockdown is tough, schools are shut, but it is important to remember this virus loves social interactions.

‘We’re reviewing all the restrictions, but these are pretty tough at the moment. 

‘I am worried about supermarkets and people actually wearing masks and following the one-way system, and making sure when it’s at capacity they wait outside the supermarket.

‘I’m worried about some of the pictures I’ve seen of social interactions in parks, if you have to exercise you can go out for exercise only.’

Mr Zahawi said when outside their homes people should bear in mind that every interaction is an opportunity for the virus to spread. 

In Wales a woman was caught flouting coronavirus rules after travelling almost 70 miles from Staffordshire to north Wales to ‘go to the beach’.

Police initially stopped the woman in Prestatyn after her ‘manner of driving’ caught the attention of officers.

She had travelled around 67 miles from Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire.

After talking to the driver, cops say they discovered she did not have a full driving licence, and was driving without insurance.

The vehicle was seized, and officers reported the driver for three offences including driving without a full licence, driving without insurance, and breaching Covid-19 regulations.

North Wales Police said: ‘This vehicle came to our attention due to the manner of driving.

‘Vehicle had travelled from Newcastle-under-Lyme to Prestatyn because the driver wanted to go to the beach. 

‘Also transpired she had no insurance and only a provisional licence. Vehicle seized and reported for three offences.’

And a visitor was also fined after being found eating a kebab at one of the South West’s most stunning beauty spots.

Avon and Somerset Police officers were on patrol at Cheddar Gorge at the weekend to enforce the national lockdown and look out for any rule-breakers.

In a tweet on Saturday night, the force’s Sedgemoor team said ‘multiple vehicles were dispersed’ and seven people were fined for breaches under COVID-19 legislation.

The tweet added: ‘Travelling from Bristol to Cheddar to sit and eat kebabs in your vehicle is not a reasonable excuse! staysafe’

Police did not state if the driver had travelled alone or if there were passengers.

Under the current national coronavirus lockdown, people are once again being urged to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

While people travel from all over to visit the village of Cheddar and walk the gorge, people should only be going there if they are local.

The coronavirus rules state: ‘You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). 

Cheddar Gorge was the site of a new crackdown of kebab eating over the weekend

Everyone in England is being urged to stay at home and ‘act like you’ve got it’ as part of a major advertising campaign. including posters (pictured) encouraging the public to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives

‘If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.’

Outdoor exercise is one of the ‘reasonable excuses’ listed by the government, as a reason to leave home.

However, the government advises: ‘This should be done locally wherever possible.

‘You can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space).’

Restaurants and cafes must close under the national lockdown, but takeaway food and drink and deliveries are still allowed. 

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