Northumberland councillor appears on ITV's This Morning in plea about high visitor numbers in county

A councillor has appeared on TV to raise concerns about large numbers of visitors to Northumberland increasing the risk of local residents being exposed to coronavirus.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 1:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 9:57 am

Rothbury councillor Steven Bridgett was on ITV’s This Morning with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby to express his fears after the Coquet Valley was packed with day trippers over the weekend.

“At first I thought it was in the hundreds but it looks more like we have had thousands of people here,” he told the presenters on Monday’s programme.

“We are on the border of Northumberland National Park and we have a large National Trust attraction (Cragside) in our area as well.”

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Rothbury councillor Steven Bridgett on ITV's This Morning.

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The influx has caused difficulties in getting grocery supplies to households in need, he explained: “I have a high proportion of elderly residents in the area I represent and they are the people the government is recommending need to isolate for 12 weeks.

“We have developed a scheme to try to help the residents but we are not able to help them with these shopping deliveries if we have visitors coming to the area en masse and stripping the shelves of the local shops.

“We live in a remote, sparsely populated area and one of the things that could have served us as an advantage is that rurality but unfortunately if we have thousands of vsitors coming from the more urban areas where the virus is more prevalent then that is not going to help us in tackling it.

“It removes one of our few abilities to protect our residents so they were quite rightly concerned. I have had a number of residents calling me where they have been finding it difficult to access the shopping they needed because the villages and towns were very much overcrowded.”

There were also large numbers of visitors to coastal villages such as Bamburgh, Seahouses and Craster over the weekend.

The influx came just days after the government told cafes, restaurants, pubs, cinemas, leisure centres and gyms to close in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus across the UK.