Invasion: Anger over Bank holiday parking chaos on streets of Church Stretton
Driveways and pavements were blocked in Church Stretton as the town was overwhelmed by visitors on Bank Holiday Monday, as reportedly thousands of visitors flocked to a nearby beauty spot.
The town, near popular National Trust site Carding Mill Valley, was inundated with an estimated 400 cars parked in residential streets due to an influx of visitors to the valley.
Cars were parked on double yellow lines, blocking pavements, side roads and driveways as visitors chose to park in the town once available parking at the site itself was full.
Some of those refused parking at the site were reported to have responded with verbal abuse.
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Church Stretton's mayor, Councillor Bob Welch, said: "Despite warnings from the National Trust in the press and on social media last week that the 'honey-pot' of Carding Mill Valley would be limited to one-third capacity (140 cars), it did not deter visitors in their thousands. That capacity was reached by 10am.
"Some of those refused entry to the valley were abusive to the National Trust rangers and then proceeded to park wherever they could in town.
"When the car parks were full, many parked regardless of the interests of local residents. An estimated 400 cars parked in residential streets, on double yellow lines, blocking pavements, driveways and side roads, preventing disabled residents and families with pushchairs from leaving their homes and denying access to emergency vehicles.
"For the first time ever, the pavements and verges from Church Stretton all the way to All Stretton were packed with cars."
Reportedly, a number of the visitors to the area were also ignoring social distancing guidelines, and demonstrating abuse when confronted.
"While the majority sought to exercise some social distancing, there were exceptions of groups of visitors blocking access to the local supermarkets and being abusive to staff when challenged," said Councillor Welch. "Such were the numbers crowding into the valley on foot, it was not always possible to exercise social distancing and there were examples of members of different households socialising together both in town and in the valley."
Councillor Welch had previously expressed concern over how he believed the easing in lockdown travel restrictions could pose a potential risk of the spread of Covid-19 among Church Stretton's elderly community.
He said that the high number of visitors on Monday made it difficult for local residents to maintain safe social distancing.
"Knowing of the likelihood of such numbers, most residents were careful to keep their distance but this was not always possible when surrounded, for example, in the supermarkets," he said.
"In this community, with many elderly residents, such thoughtless visitor behaviour is rightly seen as risking increased cross-infection.
“It is clearly untenable for a small town like Church Stretton to be expected to accommodate such numbers, especially at a time of risk."
One Twitter user described the scenes of cars parked around the town as "utter chaos, utter selfishness".
A National Trust spokesperson for Carding Mill valley said: "Our car parks are open with limited spaces, so if the car park is full please come back another time. Toilets are open, all other facilities at Carding Mill Valley will remain closed until further notice."