A COMMUNITY leader has slammed the Government's new lockdown rules for causing a "free-for-all" in Test Valley after claiming groups of people were spotted flouting social distancing rules amid the coronavirus crisis.

Cllr Alan Dowden, who represents Valley Park on the borough council, hit out at the updated rules after "around 20 people" were spotted together at a pond and "up to 15 skateboarders" were snapped at Knightwood Skate Park, Chandler's Ford, at the weekend.

This comes after Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced new social distancing rules on Sunday, May 10, where people would be allowed to go out for exercise more than once a day and see one person from outside of their home, provided they stay two metres apart.

Now the councillor is calling on Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to step up their efforts to ensure people obey the rules, fearing coronavirus cases will shoot up again.

However, TVBC has hit back at Mr Dowden's criticism stressing those caught "breaking lockdown" rules will be dealth with by the police.  

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Mr Dowden said: "I told the head of community and leisure at TVBC about this and he more or less put his hands up and said 'what can I do'?

"That is not good enough; the council should be putting things up to stop people from skateboarding because youngsters at that age do not see the dangers of this situation.

"There were around 20 people fishing at a pond in Knightwood, which they shouldn't be doing anyway.

"Young children were there all together as well, so it is now a free-for-all in Valley Park.

"I understand people want to enjoy themselves, but they need to keep away from each other."

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Alan Dowden Cllr Alan Dowden

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He added: "The situation is serious now because of the messages coming from central Government and also different directives from other countries within the UK, so I am sure coronavirus numbers will rise once again.

"It is possible we may never get a vaccine and I know nobody wants to lose a loved one."

Community and Leisure portfolio holder, cllr Ian Jeffrey, said: “Our facilities across the borough, including those at Knightwood, remain closed.

"We are working hard behind the scenes to ensure these facilities can be reopened safely and in line with government guidelines.

"Local residents will be kept informed of plans to reopen through local site signage and social media."

He added: “In the meantime, we have signage in place and have taped off the area to try to prevent public access.

"The government has also issued clear guidance on social distancing.

"While we will continue to do what we can to ensure people follow the rules, the onus remains on individuals to ensure that they adhere to them.

"Those found breaching lockdown will be dealt with by the police.”

The groups of people were spotted on Saturday, May 16.