‘Ban the ice cream van’ – residents want action over crowd damage to riverbank

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riverbank brockenhurst
Visitors to the river near Balmer Lawn Hotel

MEASURES to limit visitors to a popular riverside spot at Brockenhurst – such as patrols and banning ice cream vans – have been mooted by residents concerned overcrowding is harming the area.

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The latest parish council meeting was told hordes of people turned up at the Lymington River site near the Balmer Lawn Hotel off the A337 during the recent hot weather despite social distancing measures.

Damage caused by visitors to the riverside

Dubbing it “Brockenhurst beach”, resident Jean Dixon said the “overcrowding” had caused a host of problems, such as erosion of the riverbank and bridge foundations, and traffic congestion which would prevent an emergency vehicle accessing the scene.

Sacks of rubbish containing dirty nappies, discarded PPE, litter, dog mess and rotting food had also been discovered there, she claimed.

“We are very concerned about what is happening,” she said. “Not because of any selfish intention as we live here. Our worry is for the Forest, its flora and fauna, commoners and visitors.

“We don’t want to stop people coming here but since the end of the Covid-19 lockdown, the sudden and large influx of visitors is basically destroying what they come for.”

Presentations to the council highlighted a village WhatsApp group containing dozens of members sharing worries about the number of people at the site.

The area has been dubbed ‘Brockenhurst beach’ due to its popularity

They said they believed no more parking should be created at the site and no extra bins installed – that would only encourage more people to go there.

Rules including no parking on double yellow lines, and by-laws, such as no parking on verges, should be enforced – possibly by patrols, the residents suggested, adding: “We think this will be a good place to start at the very earliest possible opportunity please.”

They also said: “In a terrible fit of humbug, we believe the current ice cream [van] contributes to the stress on the environment and we suggest the only attraction here be the natural wonder and beauty of the environment itself.”

Speaking to the A&T, parish clerk Jim Bailey said members acknowledged locals’ concerns, which they had referred to other agencies, such as New Forest District Council, Forestry England and the national park authority. They would work with them to resolve the issues, he pledged.

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