Plans to manage huge visitor numbers to Durdle Door

Plans to manage huge visitor numbers to Durdle Door

Published by Maria Greenwood at 8:18am 4th June 2020. (Updated at 8:54am 4th June 2020)

Dorset Council are meeting with stakeholders this week, including MPs, landowners and police to agree a plan to help manage the huge visitor numbers to the Lulworth area.

Thousands of people flocked to Durdle Door last weekend.

They left huge amounts of litter and gardens were treated as public toilets.

Dorset Police declared a critical incident when three people were injured jumping from the arch at Durdle Door.

Cllr Laura Miller
Cllr Laura Miller

Wessex FM spoke to West Purbeck Councillor Laura Miller, who said it's not just Dorset Council's responsibility for the safety of the public:

"The council holds the responsibility for the public's health and safety, but we have limited highway powers.

"The police are responsible for public protection and can close the roads if that is threatened."

Cllr Miller said, the local authority isn't looking at closing off access to Lulworth, but they are setting up a temporary traffic management system.

"It's not just for this season, and this crisis period, but traffic and visitor numbers were rising and increasing every year anyway, so we need to address the long term as well as the short term."

durdle door

In response to whether Dorset Council and the police will be monitoring the area, Laura said it's the responsibility of the Lulworth Estate landowner to stop people accessing unsafe spaces:

"They have put signage and fencing to say shallow waters, do not dive and danger of death. But I think there's a combination of factors that's resulted in this perfect storm that has been illustrated in Lulworth, over the last couple of weekends. 

"The first is the government message that you can drive as long as you like, for a day out, it has been unhelpful. People aren't taking notice of it and must accept some personal responsibility; we've seen lots of reckless and unhelpful behaviour.

"Dorset Council has given out consistent messaging asking people to think twice and that message for whatever reason is simply to getting through. But we continue to push it."

Cllr Miller  says closing car parks is not the answer, and when Dorset Council and Lulworth Estate did that previously, it caused more problems for people living in the village.

"People were coming anyway and parking anywhere, even on people's driveways. So that was presenting a significant risk to residents.

"It was difficult for an already stretched emergency services to manage the volumes of people that were coming in, so the collective decision was to open the car parks to see if we could manage the problem."

This weekend Dorset Council and the emergency services will be monitoring the area around Lulworth, and will put an emergency traffic plan in place over the next couple of days:

Cllr Miller said:

"It's important to say that Dorset Council don't have the powers to close a private estate down.

"It is a matter for other bodies for example, the health and safety executive, to look at whether an area is safe, to visit and I assume that will be happening."