A North Devon councillor has called for lockdown-breaking second home owners and holidaymakers to be sent back where they came from after learning that many are already here.

Fremington county councillor Frank Biederman said local pharmacy staff were telling him many of the prescriptions they were dispensing are for people whose home address is outside the area.

In an open letter set to go before Devon County Council’s (DCC) cabinet on Wednesday (April 8) he said: “I am disappointed, that far too many are ignoring this advice, they are also clearly ignoring the rules set out by government, to stay at their primary address.

“This is putting extra burden and delay on the pharmacy and ultimately causing delay to our most vulnerable residents. My local shop has said the same, so many of his regular holiday home visitors have appeared, they feel it is safer to be here in Devon.

“Given that we are two weeks behind London, the above is likely to ultimately have severe consequences on our hospital.”

Mr Biederman said he believed permanent checks on the main roads into the area were needed, turning people around, if they didn’t live here.

He added: “I believe we need to do more to STOP this now, surely given the rules these people should be sent back, once we are aware that they are here. Emergency legislation could force pharmacies, surgeries and acute hospitals to report these incidents to the local authority, huge fines administered and they are told to return to their own home.”

DCC chief executive Dr Phil Norrey said sensors on the main routes into the county over the past two weekends had shown an average of a 20 per cent drop in traffic.

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby said she had raised the matter repeatedly with ministers in recent weeks, and the number of visitors was significantly below what it would normally be.

She added: “However, I have again raised the specific concern about second home owners with the Cabinet Office this morning on our daily conference call.

“Government, police and council guidance has been very clear to not travel to second homes. I am deeply disappointed at reports I have heard over the weekend of the ongoing arrival of second home owners under the cover of darkness across the county to avoid roadblocks and have raised this matter directly with the police as well.

“Our excellent North Devon District Hospital and services such as our local pharmacies simply cannot cope with an influx of second home owners at this difficult time, potentially bringing the virus with them, and their own additional health needs.”

Mr Biederman said Fremington had an amazing support network, with volunteers in every area. He thanked Gareth and Joanne Chapman for setting up the Fremington Support Through covid-19 Facebook page and said if anyone needed help by telephone, they could call him on 07595 988704 or Jayne Mackie on 07722 027812 if in Yelland.