A SENIOR councillor said he felt South Wales Police had “by and large washed their hands” of anti-social problems in Gower in recent weeks, but then clarified his comments the following day after being told what officers were doing.
Cllr Mark Child was speaking at a council meeting where the unsavoury behaviour of some visitors to the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), such as littering and defecating, was raised.
He said: “Clearly there are many factors involved here. I was quite appalled by some of the behaviours we have seen recently.”
He said it was important that people going to the AONB kept to the Welsh Government ‘s travel advice and respected the places they visited.
Cllr Child called on the police to enforce existing regulations.
“I think the police have, sort of, by and large washed their hands of it, to be honest,” he said.
Cllr Child, who has stood down as cabinet member for care, health and ageing well to take up his new role as Lord Mayor of Swansea, also said the council had a role to play in enforcement where necessary.
Also speaking at the Gower AONB Partnership Steering Group meeting was Cllr Linda Tyler-Lloyd, who said indiscriminate parking in Southgate had caused a lot of problems.
Mike Scott, the council’s AONB officer, said surveys from English national parks suggested that some visitors were only aware of “honey pot” sites.
He said: “They don’t really know what to expect – if I was being charitable I would say they don’t really know what sort of behaviour is acceptable in some instances.”
Mr Scott added: “It’s a very difficult situation for the police, simply because of the numbers.”
In England, people can travel without restrictions – although an area of Leicester has new lockdown measures – while in Wales people should stay within five miles of their home.
In response to Cllr Child’s comments, South Wales Police and the council said they had been working closely through the Safer Swansea Partnership to tackle anti-social behaviour and Covid-19 issues.
Dispersal notices had been issued in Langland, Caswell, SA1 and Swansea beach, they said, while police horses had also been deployed.
A police operation, meanwhile, led to the seizure of 1,800 nitrous oxide canisters from a car and the arrest of three people last week.
The council said it was regularly cleaning beaches and that its Trading Standards and licensing teams were frequently visiting premises and checking compliance.
“Anti-social behaviour including littering is not acceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Cllr Andrea Lewis – joint chair of Safer Swansea Partnership – and police superintendent Cath Larkman.
Cllr Child then contacted the Local Democracy Reporter Service to clarify his comments.
“I’ve now been fully briefed about the joint action being taken by the police and the council to address the anti-social behaviour on some Gower beaches,” he said.
“These are unusual times and everyone’s resources are stretched but I’m fully satisfied that appropriate steps are being taken to deal with these issues to help keep our communities safe during the pandemic.”