Four-letter warning to outsiders 'smacks of xenophobia'

Southwold Covid visitor warning sign

The sign went up at the main entrance road to Southwold - Credit: Marcin Jakub

A crudely worded sign warning outsiders to stay away from a seaside Suffolk town has been labelled 'ill-advised' and removed from its briefly held position.

The handwritten banner, warning non-residents to keep out amid the Covid-19 pandemic, appeared overnight on a lamppost at the edge of Southwold.

It was promptly removed from its spot, at the mini-roundabout junction of Blyth Road and Station Road, when discovered on Monday morning – and later criticised for its tone by town councillor David Beavan.

He and fellow councillor Simon Flunder were responsible for putting up more politely worded banners during the first lockdown in April.

The signs were a reaction to concerns that the town had been seeing an increasing number of people visiting or arriving at second homes.

In a bid to keep second home owners away, the two bright yellow banners read: “Please respect us, don’t infect us,” and were later removed from their positions at the Town Hall and on the A12.

Southwold town councillors Simon Flunder and David Beavan with the banner protesting against visitor

Southwold town councillors Simon Flunder and David Beavan with the banner protesting against visitors to the resort during the virus pandemic Picture: JO FLUNDER - Credit: Archant

Mr Beavan said: "It's ill-advised. I understand people are frightened and frustrated but we need to be a bit more polite about it.

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"It smacks of xenophobia and that's not what we're about. We just want to keep safe. 

"People are naturally worried and anxious about protecting their family and friends. 

"We need the small minority to be aware that they are causing this resentment."

Mr Beavan said the police had responded promptly to reports of people breaching Covid regulations in the town.

"The police have been really good and have generally arrived in 15 minutes," he added.

""I know of holiday lets being used for NHS workers, and the owners of those homes have contacted me to let me know. That's the way it should be.

"We rely on tourism – and we will welcome people back – but breaking of the rules by the small minority needs to be stamped out."

The current government guidance is to stay at home, except for limited specified purposes, and exercise locally.

Last week, the leader of East Suffolk Council, Steve Gallant, called on residents to refrain from travelling to visit the county's beauty spots, in particular its coastline, while looking to take their regular exercise.

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