Dales towns and beauty spots pay high price for poorly managed ‘unlocking’

June 6, 2020 10:15 AM
By Peter Dobbs
Parking at Lumsdale (Paul Cruise)

Parking chaos near Matlock

A virtual meeting of the Derbyshire Dales District Council held via Zoom on Thursday 4th June heard reports of widespread problems in the 'honey pot' areas of the Dales, including Matlock, Matlock Bath, Bakewell and Ilam / Dovedale.

With toilets and car parks closed and waste bin emptying under-staffed due to the crisis, it was never going to end well and the loud chorus of complaints from local residents has resounded throughout social media for many days.

It was clear that the government message that it was 'permitted to travel unlimited distances to exercise' was never balanced by 'but you will find no facilities or attractions open and there will be nowhere to park'.
The resulting overcrowding with lack of social distancing and accumulation of waste, some of it human, seems unlikely to have had NO influence on the spread of the virus. Whether it is significant or not remains to be seen.

Paul Cruise at Lumsdale (Paul Cruise)

Cllr Paul Cruise at a Matlock beauty spot that needed to be closed due to overcrowding

Lib Dem Cllr Paul Cruise, speaking at the Emergency Committee on 4th June, asked Council Leader Cllr Gary Purdy "if he believed that social distancing was in place in the Dales, particularly in the visitor 'hot spots', was he worried about a second wave of the virus and did he think that it was time for the government to re-visit the guidance". Paul also suggested that the Emergency Committee send a cross-party message to government that the initial unlocking "had not been controlled or managed well."

He said "We need guidelines for the future that will protect our district. We want to welcome people when the time is right. The time was not right [when the relaxation was announced by the Prime Minister on 11th May]".

Commenting after the meeting, he said that the "Council needs clarification from government as to what measures might be put in place to control a repeated exodus to the countryside in the event of a second wave of the virus."