Philip Atkins

People in Lichfield and Burntwood are being told to stay local when exercising over the weekend.

Police and council chiefs have united for the call after reports of groups gathering in areas across Staffordshire despite the coronavirus restrictions.

Cllr Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said residents needed to continue following official advice.

“I understand why people are anxious to get out in the fresh air, but increasingly we are seeing more people in groups, or in close proximity to strangers at places such as Cannock Chase.

“The car parks are closed as part of the guidance on social distancing and unnecessary travel, but there are regular reports, and pictures on social media, of people close together where they’re parking on roads, for example, and it’s worrying.

“Many people have and are continuing to make a lot of sacrifices during this crisis to reduce both the infection rate and the pressure on the NHS.

“The vast majority of us are horrified at the idea that if people start mingling again before the guidance is eased we run the risk of a second spike in the number of infections and an extended or second period of lockdown.”

Cllr Philip Atkins, Staffordshire County Council

Toilets, play areas, cafes and car parks have been shut at country parks across Staffordshire for a number of weeks.

Cllr Atkins added that Government guidance remains that people should stay local to exercise – and that they shouldn’t stop to sunbathe or have a barbecue.

“The weather forecast isn’t as good for this weekend as it has been recently and I would ask people to think long and hard before travelling to a country park.

“Although there’s a lot of talk about how we will come out of lockdown, right now it’s still vital that we show common sense and observe the spirit of the guidelines.”

Cllr Philip Atkins, Staffordshire County Council

“Community effort”

Chief Inspector Becky Hyde from Staffordshire Police said a community effort was needed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“The vast majority of people are being really supportive and following social distancing rules and I am thankful to them however there have been some reports where people appear to be ignoring the rules and being inconsiderate to others.

“We all recognise that this is a difficult time but it is truly a community effort and each one of us has a vital part to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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9 Comments

  1. And in the 6th age of stupid (also known as a week), a great leader of our esteemed council did wonder why closing car parks forced people to park on the road.

    Seriously, nothing in any guidance recommends the closing of car parks or parks themselves, yet councils have time and time again over stepped their remit.

    Why not be proactive and mark out double spacing? Just a thought.

    Also, Becky, as someone who gets to go to work and drive around as part of that role, no I don’t think you do recognise what it is like to be stuck in the house for 6 weeks.

  2. The Forestry Commissioners has closed places like Birches Valley on Cannock Chase so closing the car park too would seem an obvious thing to do.
    There are plenty of places to exercise, not on Cannock Chase.
    There are fires causing problems on the Cannock Chase, why are people out there having barbicues? We have friends who live on the Cannock Chase who had a big fire start near their home and they are angry about it.

  3. Far better for everyone in Lichfield to walk round and round Stowe Pool or Beacon Park and sit on the same benches obviously…..

  4. It may surprise you to learn Barry, that not everyone who parks at Birches Valley does so for the Forestry Commission shop & centre.

    As wild and wacky as it may seem, people have been know to simply walk in the 26 square miles of wood & scrub land. Crazy.

  5. Darly – I was explaining why the car park is closed. It is on Forestry Commissioners land.

    I was also agreeing with the council that it would be better to exercise locally, not have to drive to places.
    People have been spending all day on the Cannock Chase, that’s why there has been a problem with litter and fire starting threatening homes.

  6. Give an inch take a mile. A trait common in most. Unfortunately, having the Hubris Politicians, by not taking this virus seriously, many are now not here to have their voices heard.
    No matter what ruling I’d support every effort to ensure we’re safe no matter what draconian methods are suggested or imposed .

  7. Barry.

    Littering and starting fires are separate issues. Cannock Chase should remain open, travelling to it is irrelevant.

  8. Bill… I am inclined to agree with you on your assessment of risk. It is difficult because many just want to get out now. Even your home can feel claustrophobic after five weeks. I think the ‘excercise’ is probably a secondary consideration.
    The bottom line is any encounters are problematic. You have to get it right every time….. The Virus only once! True many recover, but the risk factor is straightforward. There have been 171,000 cases and 26,700 deaths. That is a fatality rate of 15.6% of those infected.
    I think your right. Stay in….. your a long time dead!

  9. Darly – the littering and fires is because people are spending too long on The Cannock Chase having driven there.

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