CHIEFS at the National Trust are advising members of the public to avoid visiting Formby this weekend after high volumes of visitors and significant traffic disruptions have been experienced over the last week.
Following the recent changes to Government advice on travel and exercise, National Trust car parks started to open across England from May 13. The decision was taken to open the car parks at National Trust Formby to alleviate pressures on the local roads and the community. Despite travel restrictions being in place during lockdown and people being instructed to stay local, a high volume of traffic was still witnessed on the Sefton coastline. Because of this, the decision was made to reopen the car parks at National Trust Formby in line with the changes to the Government advice which was likely to lead to a further uplift in traffic.
Acting General Manager for National Trust Formby, Jo Hudson, says: “We knew that changes to the recent lockdown would bring more visitors to Formby as a much-loved coastal area. Rather than exacerbate local traffic issues further by keeping our car parks closed, we made the decision to open our gates. It was important for us to play our part in helping to alleviate pressures on the local area by providing a parking solution. It was never the intention to encourage more visitors.”
However, with the recent good weather, limitations to public transport, and other coastal areas and car parks remaining closed, greater numbers than expected have visited the area by road placing the depleted team at Formby under significant pressure. Traffic queues have stretched over 10 miles, creating problems for Formby residents and emergency services.
Jo continued: “Like many charities, we made the decision to furlough staff in order to protect our charitable funds for the future. When we first re-opened we were operating with skeleton staff so our car parks could not be manned, our toilets had to remain closed, and we asked members of the public to take their litter away with them because we didn’t have the resource to service the bins. Following the demand we’ve seen over the last week, we have made a number of adjustments to our operations going into the bank holiday weekend.”
Several members of the team at National Trust Formby have been brought back from furlough to ensure essential hygiene practices can be put in place for toilets, including a queuing system and regular cleaning. The team are in the process of reopening the large bins in the car parks which can be emptied through the Sefton Council collections and staff brought back from furlough will be helping to manage litter on site. However, visitors are still being encouraged to take their waste away with them to be recycled as not all the bins across National Trust Formby can be reinstated at this time. A number of visitor welcome staff are also returning to help to manage cars in the car parks during peak periods. Matrix signage on the roads leading to National Trust Formby, used in conjunction with Sefton Council, will carry messaging to let drivers know when the car parks are full.
Despite these adjustments to operations at Formby, members of the public are still being encouraged to avoid travelling to the coastal area this weekend.
Jo added: “During the easing of the Government’s lockdown restrictions we ask people to use good sense and be respectful of other communities when deciding to travel for their daily exercise. Hotspots developing at our places could put both visitors and local residents at risk and they put local emergency services under pressure. If National Trust Formby becomes overcrowded, we may need to make the decision to close. We advise members of the public not to visit immediately and visit us another time.”
The National Trust Formby continues to work closely with partners Sefton Council, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, Natural England and the Coastguard during this busy time to manage the situation and advise members of the public against creating hotspots.