Sunday, 17 Jan 2021

More townhall snoopers using DRONES to check people are obeying Covid lockdown rules at seaside in Hampshire

MORE town hall snoopers have used drones to check people are obeyinglockdown rules, with locals in Hampshire suffering the latest crackdown.

Portsmouth City Council said it secretly filmed people walking along the seafront in Southsea, Hants., to "understand how the seafront was being used" before removing benches and deploying marshals to move people along.

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Aerial footage shows groups of people taking their daily exercise along the promenade and across the golden beach.

Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet member for Traffic and Transportation, Councillor Lynne Stagg, said this "wasn't advertised as it was important that we were able to gauge how the spaces were currently being used."

The council closed a section of the seafront last weekend after concerns were raised about a lack of social distancing.

And further closures are now being considered with marshals and signage urging people to follow government guidelines when exercising.

Cllr Stagg said the council "flew a drone along late morning and early afternoon to get a good understanding of how the whole of the Seafront area was being used".

She added that the footage showed people "sitting and stopping at certain points along the seafront", although most areas were "flowing with people exercising and able to practice social distancing".

The council is now installing signs to encourage locals to "keep moving" and will have marshals patrolling the beauty spot to ensure no-one stops for a rest.

"It is absolutely essential that everyone follows the government advice and only go out to an open space to exercise once a day, with their household or bubble or if alone, with one other person," Cllr Stagg warned.

Several cafes along the seafront were closed over the weekend over fears crowds would form and some benches were also been removed to discourage loitering.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Liberal Democrat Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: "There is a growing concern about how things are operating on the seafront.

"We hired a drone to get some footage at the weekend, so we can see what the numbers are actually like.

"When I have been out, people have been gathering around in groups at takeaways – so we have to make sure that’s not happening, without hindering businesses in the process."

It comes after "overzealous" cops were accused of "lockdown shaming" those out walking during the first lockdown last year.

Derbyshire police used drones to hunt down people breaking social distancing measures – a move civil liberties group Big Brother Watch branded "sinister" and "counter-productive".

Neath and Port Talbot Council did the same, pairing their flying machines with loud speakers for telling flouters off.

Cops in the US took things further, testing a 'pandemic drone' that would detect Covid symptoms from 190 feet away.

The drone was equipped with a specialised sensor and "computer vision systems" that will also monitor heart and respiratory rates, according to Draganfly, an aircraft manufacturing company.

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