Aldershot News & Mail : 2020-07-08

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3 NEWS & MAIL WEDNESDAY, JULY 8, 2020 News Pond crowds causing ‘huge problems’ VISITORS LEAVING PILES OF LITTER AND By ELEANOR FLEMING @elfinwood4­4 BLOCKING EMERGENCY ACCESS ROUTES FRENSHAM Great Pond has seen unpreceden­ted visitor numbers over the past few days, with thousands of people flocking to the site to enjoy the sunshine. The beauty spot in Farnham, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area and sanctuary for wildlife, has seen an additional one to two thousand visitors per day. Visitors are not only breaching social distancing measures, but they are littering and parking on the surroundin­g clearways, causing “huge problems” for emergency vehicles and residents. Isobel Carlill, who lives in Pond Lane, near to the site, recently feared paramedics would not be able to access her home, which she said was “frightenin­g”. The 23-year-old student said: “The past two days, I have had to get to two essential doctor appointmen­ts. For a journey that would usually take five minutes, it took around 30 minutes and I was extremely late. “Yesterday [June 25], we parked the car 20 minutes away from the house just so I could get to the doctors. It’s incredibly disruptive; residents can’t go about their daily lives.” Ms Carlill said visitors are parking on nearby roads, which are very narrow, causing obstructio­ns and preventing other vehicles from passing through. She is extremely concerned about “emergency vehicle access” and said some people are parking away from the site and walking down the A287, a busy main road, with their young children. She added: “Last week, or the week before, I had a paramedic out and I genuinely wondered if they would’ve been able to get to me - it was frightenin­g. “We have a lot of elderly residents here and you wonder whether an ambulance would be able to get down the road. It’s just a really horrible feeling.” Mick Cook, another resident who has lived in the area for 14 years, echoed Ms Carlill’s sentiments, describing the situation as “ludicrousl­y busy” and “dangerous”. The 65-year-old said: “It is obviously a beautiful spot and I understand why people want to come here. It’s a nature reserve and a SSSI – there are lots of rare species here. ne on Friday morning alone (June 26). The council has already urged people not to visit Frensham Great Pond, but is now issuing another warning as the number of visitors has “sky rocketed” in recent weeks. Councillor Liz Townsend, portfolio holder for economic developmen­t, parks and leisure, said: “We are seeing an extra one to two thousand visitors a day with around 600 extra vehicles. This is obviously not sustainabl­e and makes it impossible to maintain social distancing. “The car park is full by about 10am and, when the car park is full, the site is full, however, people are then parking on the clearways causing issues for emergency vehicle access and also causing huge problems for local residents. “In addition, the fire risk is very high and, although we have clear signage up on site, people are ignoring this and still bringing barbecues and lighting camp fires. This is completely unacceptab­le; let’s not forget the devastatio­n of the recent fire at Thursley Common affecting around 370 acres.” She added: “The safety and wellbeing of our residents and visitors to Frensham Great Pond and other green spaces across Waverley is our main priority. “We know that the easing of lockdown restrictio­ns coupled with warm weather is bound to attract visitors but our advice is still: please don’t come to Frensham at the moment and take this time to enjoy other green spaces nearer to your home.” “Most of the year there are not that many people here, but now it’s getting to the point where it’s ludicrousl­y busy and it’s dangerous. The car park gets busy very early on, meaning that everyone parks in the road. “The problem we are finding is that the issue is being pushed into Hampshire. It’s not just a Surrey and Waverley problem, it’s a Hampshire problem too.” He added: “It’s a beautiful spot and I can’t blame people for coming here, but someone has got to take control of it. The spot is now too popular and we are going to have a major problem on our hands if we do not do something soon.” As well as dangerous parking on the clearways, Waverley Borough Council said there has been “an explosion of litter” and visitors are ignoring signage about lighting fires. Contractor­s have been spending hours of their time clearing up litter, with 74 bags of rubbish being collected from the beaches ady nsham ng r ecent send, mic ure, a y les. ble ar owever, g es nd Rubbish and traffic overwhelme­d the site s Litter left on the sand at Frensham Great pond. Below, crowds at the beach last weekend GRAHAME LARTER PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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