Police have confiscated alcohol from people enjoying the warm weather in Nottingham after council chiefs closed two of the city’s parks due to “appalling scenes” of large crowds.
Council leader David Mellen said the city’s Arboretum and Lenton Recreation Ground were closed due to “the actions of a thoughtless minority”.
The Forest Recreation Ground, which remained open on Wednesday despite social distancing and litter concerns, saw a number of officers engage with locals who were sat drinking with friends.
Police seized drinks and disposed of what was left in bottles and cans as a result of the city council’s alcohol ban in parks.
The ban came after footage posted on social media captured a brawl, dozens of people drinking, ignoring social distancing rules and leaving behind large amounts of litter at the Arboretum on Monday.
Announcing the decision to close the two parks, Mr Mellen said: “We have taken steps to prevent a repeat of the appalling scenes we witnessed at the Arboretum on Monday evening.
“We regret having to take this action, since everyone has been looking forward to the chance to visit our parks, now that easing of restrictions means we can meet up to six other people outdoors. Sadly, the actions of a thoughtless minority has spoilt that.
💚Letâs all say a HUGE thanks to all our #Nottingham City Council clean teams and our amazing volunteers - our Clean Champions, for cleaning this up at several parks across Nottingham, even though they absolutely shouldnât have to. 😔 pic.twitter.com/jjnSHR31YY— 🌈My Nottingham (@MyNottingham) March 31, 2021
“We will keep the situation under review and hope to reopen parks as soon as possible.”
He continued: “It is unacceptable and unsustainable for our already thinly stretched crews to have to be redeployed from work in communities across our city to clear up mess left behind at our parks.
“We have added extra bins – and we implore people to take their rubbish away with them if these become full and dispose of it responsibly.
“At our other parks, we have increased patrols of community protection officers who along with police officers will continue to rigorously enforce the ban on drinking in public spaces that’s in place across Nottingham.
“None of this would be necessary if people took their own personal responsibility seriously, especially at a time when we need to be much more cautious in the way we behave and follow the gradual lifting of restrictions, if we are to hope to put this pandemic behind us.”
Several other UK cities also saw “disgraceful” amounts of litter at parks and beauty spots.
Police in Birmingham said no fines were issued at the city’s Cannon Hill Park despite large crowds and “music and lighting being set up”.
Adam Jones, from Moseley, Birmingham, said he saw a “couple of thousand” at the park while walking with his girlfriend on Tuesday evening.
He told the PA news agency: “While there was a fair few people in small groups respecting distancing, they were overshadowed by lots of big groups, sometimes up to 20/25 people, blaring music.
“We did one lap of the park and by the time we were leaving it looked like a festival.
“How it looked this morning was disgraceful – so much rubbish that a council worker estimated it would take the whole team most of the day to clear.”
Explaining the decision not to issue any fines, Superintendent Farooq Sheikh, of Birmingham East police, said: “The crowds were good-natured and engaged with officers, and the park was all clear by 11.30pm. Officers did not need to issue any fines.
“We will have extra police officers in the area today who will be able to use our powers to quickly break up any gatherings that put people’s health at risk.”
Some of the grass-mowing planned across Birmingham’s parks was suspended so council workers could focus on litter-picking.
Six tonnes of rubbish was also collected from Endcliffe Park in Sheffield on Wednesday.
Before & After:— SheffieldCityCouncil (@SheffCouncil) March 31, 2021
Today we removed 7 tonnes🐘🐘🐘of waste from Endcliffe Park. Thanks so much to all the amazing local volunteers who helped, and our great teams at @Recycle4Shef and @sccstreetsahead
Please let's not have the same scene tomorrow, love your @ParksSheffield💚🗑ï¸â»ï¸ pic.twitter.com/UgjTrqXunt
The huge litter-picking operation began at 6am, with the city council posting a video of rubbish strewn across the area.
The council tweeted: “We know people have missed socialising in the sun but this is not what is meant by easing out of lockdown.
“Enjoy (parks in Sheffield) but don’t leave your mess, please love our parks.”
There were also litter problems on Woodhouse Moor in Leeds, as 26-year-old PhD student Sophie Meredith told PA: “It’s really disgusting that people left their litter piled up by the bins and across the grass, and it’s an issue that happens every time there’s a hot day in Leeds.
“Today was the worst I’ve ever seen it, and it’s probably made worse by the fact that everyone’s been cooped up for a year, and there’s not enough bins in that park and they hadn’t been emptied for a few days prior.”