#UNACCEPTABLE: Anger as 'groups of people visit Dartmoor to have barbecues'

By Nick Knight   |   Editor   |
Saturday 25th April 2020 5:00 am
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Dr Kevin Bishop, Dartmoor National Park Chief Executive ()

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The Dartmoor National Park Authority is again urging people to stay home to limit the spread of coronavirus after seeing groups of people visiting Dartmoor for barbecues.

The authority has reiterated its appreciation and thanks to the vast majority of people for adhering to the last four weeks of isolation and distancing.

Chief executive Kevin Bishop also praised the efforts of ‘Team Dartmoor’ for how they have responded to the crisis, but said he was saddened to hear of incidents where Rangers had been subject to abuse for doing their job to protect people and Dartmoor.

Mr Bishop said: ‘Across the board, authority staff have responded incredibly well to this crisis. It’s been a really big effort in challenging circumstances and I am proud of them all.

‘Rangers are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and while I’m delighted to hear the vast majority of people are responding positively I am saddened to hear of occasions where Rangers have been subjected to abuse by a minority of people.

‘We are in direct contact with police over these types of issues and very grateful for their continued and active support.

‘We will not tolerate any type of anti-social behaviour that impacts on staff or can potentially damage Dartmoor’s special environment and will not hesitate in taking further action.

‘Our task remains unchanged and Rangers will continue their patrols: engaging, explaining and encouraging people to follow the stay at home guidance and understand what they can and cannot do under Dartmoor’s byelaws.’

With restrictions in place for at least another two weeks, it is hoped people will continue to do their bit and look after each by being ‘home heroes’.

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew said: ‘The role of the Dartmoor Rangers is intrinsic to ensuring that this beautiful part of our region is nurtured and developed as well as safeguarded for future generations. This is a team endeavour.

‘The current challenges of COVID-19 has led to a number of usually law abiding people knowingly compromising the detail and the spirit of the guidelines in travelling to Dartmoor for recreational and other activity.

‘Over the coming days and weeks our officers will continue to have conversations with those they stop and will continue with efforts to encourage, explain, educate, but will, where necessary, with my full support, they will use enforcement.

‘The message from Devon and Cornwall Police is very clear; that you should stay at home and stay local.

‘Should you travel to Dartmoor for reasons that are not essential, then it is all but certain that you will receive an enforcement notice should police encounter you.

‘As importantly, you will have not played your part in protecting the NHS or being the law abiding member of the community that you would ordinarily expect yourself to be. Our support for Dartmoor Rangers in this is unequivocal.’

Dr Bishop added: ‘We are working locally with councils and partners, and with Defra nationally, to respond to the emergency.

‘We have heard from the Government that there are indications the spread of the virus is slowing nationally. However, it is also clear the fight against this virus is not over and easing restrictions will take time.

‘Once again we ask that people continue to follow the advice on exercising in the countryside.

‘That is to stay local, use open spaces near your home where possible and do not travel unnecessarily. It’s very tempting, if you love the area as many of us do, to want to get into the car and drive to Dartmoor.

‘But having barbecues is not essential – and is also an additional fire hazard – and nor is driving 15 miles to walk your dog.

‘The reality is stark: if you do travel further than you absolutely have to, you are risking the spread of the virus, your own lives and that of others.’

SUPPORT GRANT

Dartmoor’s Coronavirus Community Support Grant (CCSG) is providing valuable funding to organisations working in communities affected by the pandemic.

The scheme offers grants of up to £500 to voluntary and community groups so they can tackle the social and economic impacts of the outbreak and help the most vulnerable.

So far, the Authority has provided more than £8,000 to community organisations across Dartmoor. This has helped provide veg boxes for vulnerable people, protective equipment and clothing for delivery drivers, prescription home delivery for the vulnerable and an online arts platform.

Dr Bishop added: ‘The communities on Dartmoor have risen to the occasion magnificently. We have been pleased to provide rapid funding that helps them keep each other safe. Organisations are still welcome to apply by emailing [email protected]

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