‘Large’ increase in visitors to Cheddar Gorge forces main road closure

Cheddar Gorge. Picture: Love Weston

Cheddar Gorge. Picture: Love Weston - Credit: Archant

The main road through Cheddar Gorge will be shut by Somerset County Council and the police from tonight (Friday) to protect people’s health.

The B3135 Cliff Road will shut due to a ‘large increase in the amount of vehicles’ driving to the beauty spot during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The amount of vehicles and people attending the area has caused ‘a lot of concern to residents’, as it increases the chances of coronavirus spreading.

In a statement released by Cheddar Parish Council on behalf of its village policing team, they say it highlights that ‘some people are not staying home to support the stay at home saves lives message’.

From this evening at 6pm, Cliff Road will be closed until 8am on Monday.

Cllr John Woodman, cabinet member for highways and transport at the county council, said: “Public safety is paramount. It’s extremely sad that we are having to close the road due to the a minority who are acting in such an irresponsible way.

“We are facing a national crisis. The great majority of people understand the need to stay at home and save lives, but sadly a few are flouting the restrictions without any thought of how their actions affect others.

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“The road will close this evening and reopen Monday morning.”

The council says last weekend there were three cars visiting the Gorge, including a couple who had travelled from a city and another visiting the gorge for a birthday outing, as well as a family who parked up to eat takeaway pizza.

A person also claimed they were doing an essential shop in Cheddar, even though they live 60 miles away.

Superintendent at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Mike Prior, said: “We have received messages from people in the community who are concerned about antisocial behaviour, car cruise-type activities, and a lack of social distancing and therefore hope they appreciate the action being taken this weekend.

“While it is pleasing the overwhelming majority of people are complying with the guidelines against non-essential travel and social distancing, there are a number of people from both in and outside the force area found to be heading to the Gorge unnecessarily.

“Last Sunday, the Gorge had as many parked cars as we would expect to see during the peak-season. Officers explained to those people the importance of the restrictions and encouraged them to comply as has been the force’s strategy since the restrictions were introduced in late-March to help save lives.

“The route being closed isn’t preventing people from exercising; it is being closed to prevent the people of Cheddar and surrounding communities being put at unnecessary risk.”

Anyone witnesses to an incident contrary to the Government’s guidelines should call 101.