3 The worst flouters of lockdown rules in Devon and Cornwall exposed
Not everybody is sticking to the tough lockdown rules and as we enter week seven of isolation and social distancing, we take a look at some of the worst flouters in Devon and Cornwall. The public and police across the region are having none of the weak excuses and people have been quickly sent home, fined by the courts or publicly shamed on social media. Devon and Cornwall is winning in the battle against the coronavirus and is now emerging as the area in the country with the least number of Covid-19 deaths – largely thanks to the sacrifice of huge numbers of people who have stayed indoors, often at huge personal and financial expense.
It came after early fears that holidaymakers and second home owners would flood into the South West to escape the harder hit inner city areas. But the #Comebacklater campaign was launched and enforced by vigilant Devon and Cornwall Police officers.
The 530 mile round-trip for an hour by the sea
Police asked the couple to turn around (Image: Penzance Police)
Concerned residents spotted a couple of lockdown flouters who drove 265 miles to St Ives this week for a break from ‘forthcoming exam pressures’. They were promptly asked to turn around by officers and both received fines for breaking the lockdown rules.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “From Surrey to St Ives for an hour! “Today our officers attended the pier in St Ives where a couple had been spotted by concerned residents. “It transpired that the couple had driven 265 miles from Surrey for a day trip due to forthcoming exam pressure and thought their trip essential.
“Both were issued with COVID-19 penalty notices and immediately decided to cut their outing short and return home. “All in all a very long 530-mile round trip for an hour by the sea.” Read in full here.
Police called as 5G protesters caught ignoring social distancing
Police were called to an anti-5G protest in North Devon on Friday where campaigners were not complying with social distancing guidelines.
Protesters had planned to march from Barnstaple library to the nearby police and council offices to deliver a letter outlining their objections to the mobile phone technology. However, tensions rose when police officers were called to the library after due to concerns about the group gathering and not following social distancing guildelines. A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “The group was given advice around current social distancing measures and dispersed as a result.
“A man was later arrested for failing to supply details, but then shortly afterwards de-arrested with no further action.” Read the full story here.
Large crowd spotted in Woolacombe
Faces have been blurred for legal reasons (Image: Ilfracombe Police)
There was a huge public outcry in North Devon this weekend after a large crowd of young men and women were photographed in Woolacombe. The picture was shared across social media.
It caused anger from residents who fear a ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 if people fail to maintain the physical distancing rules. One called on the flouters to ‘get a grip’: “More cars on the road, more people out. We will have a second wave at this rate and not seeing family until after Christmas.
The Second World War lasted six years and they did what was asked. Get a grip people.” Read in full here
The fishing trip
One family drove all the way from London during the night to enjoy a fishing trip in Devon.
Devon and Cornwall Police Control Room Supervisor Mike Newton said the lockdown flouting family were located in Torquay early in the morning after driving down from the capital through the night. On Twitter, he said: “Officers locate a family from London who have driven overnight for a spot of fishing. “Escorted out of Devon, and adults issued with fines.
I shall refrain from further comment.”
Groups drinking in Exeter city centre
In Exeter two people this week faced the courts for hanging around and drinking in public areas and breaking public spaces protection orders. Gavin John Prieto, 43, had been living in Cathedral Yard, Exeter. The 43-year-old admitting stealing a GBP7 bottle of wine and drinking it in Fore Street between 4pm and 10pm on Sunday April 19 2020 in contravention of the public spaces protection order.
He was committed to prison for nine weeks suspended for 12 months. Ciara Lewis, 30, also made a guilty plea for drinking alcohol in a group on a public street under the public spaces protection order. Her prison sentence was deemed served because of the time already spent inside awaiting the court hearing.
The boat trip
Police check the beaches in St Ives to make sure people are adhering to the guidelines. (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
Police were unimpressed after someone drove all the way across Devon to pick up a boat.
They reported the driver for driving across the county to pick it up – and then breaking down on a hill. “Driving across the county (and then breaking down on a hill) to collect the second hand boat you just bought is not an essential journey either. Driver reported near Bodmin.”
Driving to Devon to ‘reminisce’
Two men were reported by the police for breaching coronavirus lockdown rules to transport motorbikes from Hampshire.
The duo were caught travelled to Plymouth for the bikes and stopping to ‘reminisce’ with friends at Paignton. Police said on Twitter said: “Recovery truck from Basingstoke intercepted. “Driver took his friend to Plymouth to collect some motorbikes he had bought before visiting Paignton to reminisce of times past.
“Both reported for the breaches and directed to leave Devon.”
Traffic numbers are creeping back up
Traffic on Devon’s roads is steadily increasing – and most of the extra trips are outside rush hour. A sample from 10 automatic traffic counters on Devon’s A-roads has shown that traffic volumes have started to creep up over the past week. During the first two weeks of the lockdown, there was a dramatic reduction in traffic – around 69% down on 2019 figures.
But Devon County Council said the same traffic counters have recorded about 10,000 more daily journeys this week. Weekday flows are now averaging about 70,000 trips a day at the 10 sites, 61% down year-on-year but up by 20% since the end of March. More businesses which closed at the start of the lockdown have reopened over the past week, and the Easter holiday period has passed.
However, there has been only a small rise in morning traffic flows between 8am and 9am – an average of 21 trips per traffic counter site. As only 210 of the extra 10,000 journeys took place in that hour, a council spokesman said it appeared that most of the extra trips were taking place outside the morning peak hour. Early indications are that average speeds have also increased during the lockdown, and a greater proportion of traffic is travelling above speed limits.
Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet member for highway management, said: “It is a concern to see any increase in traffic flows on Devon’s roads, but what we’re seeing reflects the national picture. The lockdown restrictions are tough on all of us, but I would urge everyone to think about whether you need to make your journey. If everyone starts travelling around Devon it may not take much for us to lose the progress we’ve made.”
The UK has been in lockdown since March 23 and the travel restrictions are in place until at least May 7.
The government is asking people to only go outside for food, health reasons or work – but only if they cannot work from home.
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