Woolacombe’s car parks will not reopen this spring bank holiday weekend but will start opening in June and July.

The news was revealed in a joint statement issued today (Thursday, May 21) by Mortehoe Parish Council, Parkin Estates, Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks, Woolacombe Bay Hotel and Woolacombe Golden Sands Holiday Park.

It follows parking chaos in the village on Wednesday, May 20 as visitors flocked to the beach and parked anywhere they could because the main car parks were closed.

As a result, roads were almost blocked and some 70 parking fines were handed out.

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby had called today for car parks to be reopened, but the joint statement said: “The parish council, major business owners and the operators of the main car parks in Woolacombe have met this morning and are looking to conduct a phased and safe re-opening in June and July, in accordance with Government guidance, insurance requirements, duty of care for staff and risk to the wider community.

“Measures are being investigated to allow visitors and locals to benefit from the sea and open spaces in Woolacombe. Social distancing and personal hygiene remain priorities.

“We are grateful to the police and Devon County Council for their help and support in dealing with the unprecedented numbers of illegal parking yesterday.

“We would love to welcome all visitors back but the changes to the lockdown are limited. It has not been lifted and we still have a long way to go. While this next phase feels significant, it is certainly not a return to normality.”

They reminded people that almost all hospitality businesses including shops, campsites, restaurants, pubs and cafés remained closed, with ‘very limited’ toilet and rubbish collection facilities in Woolacombe and Mortehoe.

The statement concluded: “This is a temporary position. We will monitor the situation carefully and welcome all visitors back when it is considered safe and appropriate and in line with Government guidance.”