Seaside resort bans DECKCHAIRS: Holiday hotspot on south coast stops renting out beach recliners on the seafront… to stop gangs of yobs using them as weapons
- Bournemouth council to lose £200,000 in rental income from 3,500 deck chairs
- One officer said the decision came after a wave of anti-social behaviour last year
- Many fights broke out on promenade last summer with chairs used as weapons
They have been a traditional part of a trip to the resort’s beaches for more than a century.
But now Bournemouth has stopped renting out deckchairs to holidaymakers on the seafront – in case thugs grab them to use as weapons in Mods and Rockers-style brawls.
The council’s 3,500 distinctive yellow and blue canvas chairs have been mothballed for the season at an estimated cost in lost rental of £200,000.
One officer said the decision was taken following a wave of anti-social behaviour on the seafront last summer – though hardly on the scale of the battles between Mods and Rockers seen in resorts such as Brighton in the Sixties.
Vikki Slade, a Liberal Democrat member on Tory-run Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, raised the issue after residents remarked on the lack of deckchairs and sun loungers this year.
She says she was told it was to stop a recurrence of scenes in June and July last year, when the resort was overrun with visitors eager for a day out following the easing of restrictions imposed during the first Covid lockdown.
Fights regularly broke out on the prom, so the council banned deckchairs this summer to prevent a repeat, which it claims could have put staff at risk.
When Mrs Slade asked where visitors were supposed to sit, an officer told her there were ‘plenty of benches near the beach’. She said: ‘I expected the reasoning to be because of Covid – but the response I got was that it had nothing to do with that.
‘They said it was because they had anti-social behaviour last year and they were concerned about the safety of staff and the possibility of chairs being used as weapons.
Vikki Slade, a Liberal Democrat member on Tory-run Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, raised the issue after residents remarked on the lack of deckchairs and sun loungers this year (Pictured: File photo of deck chairs in Bournemouth)
Mods causing mayhem by brandishing deck chairs as weapons back in 1967
‘I was mortified by the stupidity of the excuse – I thought they were joking or that someone had made a mistake, so I contacted them three times but got the same response.
‘I don’t recall any situations where people were fighting with deckchairs. Even if that were the case, you don’t just get rid of the chairs – you increase security or have police patrolling the beach.’
She added that the council – which charges around £3.50 a day per chair – said it was allowing for a £200,000 drop in income as a result.
‘It’s just the most wasteful, lazy, and ridiculous excuse,’ she said. ‘We have a council spending large sums on beach barbecues, proposals for £90,000 on mayoral cars, while 200 grand is being let go from deckchairs people actually want.
‘How many toilet blocks could have been refurbished with that money?’
‘An officer said to me, “Well there are 600 benches close to the beach so there are plenty of places for people to sit”.
‘But you can’t just plonk granny on the promenade. Deckchairs are synonymous with the seaside. How can the council present Bournemouth as a day-tripping destination without them?’
The council admitted it did not check with police whether they had concerns about deckchairs being used in attacks.
A spokesman said: ‘As part of our seasonal response planning, the decision was made not to hire out our deckchairs or sun loungers this year.
‘The well-being and safety of our staff, residents and visitors was a priority in this decision.
‘Unfortunately Covid-19 brought a lot of issues to the forefront last year, with overcrowding on the beaches and the subsequent problems that arose prompting us to make these changes.’
The deckchairs and sun loungers are expected to return to the beach next year.