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‘Aggressive’ crabbers turn on locals in social distancing village row

PUBLISHED: 15:51 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:55 27 August 2020

Walberswick local Luke Jeans said some crabbers have become aggressive when challenged over social distancing   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Walberswick local Luke Jeans said some crabbers have become aggressive when challenged over social distancing Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Fed-up locals in a Suffolk village famous for its crabbing say tourists are ignoring social distancing rules and get aggressive when challenged.

Walberswick is famous as being the home of the world crabbing championships   Picture : ASHLEY PICKERINGWalberswick is famous as being the home of the world crabbing championships Picture : ASHLEY PICKERING

Walberswick, home to the British Open Crabbing Championship, is renowned across the country for its beach and river – with hundreds coming every summer to visit.

But locals say tourists have been ignoring social distancing rules, particularly on a narrow bridge popular with visitors aiming to catch crustaceans.

Signs had been placed on the narrow Kissing Bridge, around 2ft wide, to remind people to adhere to government guidelines but have since disappeared.

One local resident, Luke Jeans, said he and others have seen an increasingly aggressive attitude by visitors on the bridge.

Mr Jeans said: “I and a few others would make people aware of the rules, but now people are getting more aggressive I won’t be doing it anymore.

“I would go down and be polite, just drawing people’s attention to the signs – if you’re polite, the majority take notice and nine out of 10 people are friendly and go on their way, but some won’t.

“I had one bloke fold his arms and stand in the bridge and another gentleman was very verbally aggressive, repeating one sentence and getting closer and closer to my face.

“There just seems to be this attitude of ‘Oh, we are on holiday and we don’t need to worry about the virus, so let’s ignore social distancing’.”

Mr Jeans said he had also confronted a mother and daughter he caught defecating in his garden last week – despite public toilets being available.

“They had undone the gate and got in and I suddenly saw them,” he said. “They said it is alright but I told them ‘no, it is not alright’.

“Most other residents are resigned to staying indoors until the summer is over because it just isn’t too pleasant out there. Even on a grey day it’s completely full.

“Only around 5% of people are breaking rules, but it is another case of the very few ruining it for everybody else.”

Josie Bassinette, chair of the parish council, said the incidents are not typical of the overall situation, and stressed the majority of tourists are polite and act safely.

She said: “Walberswick, like all coastal communities in the country, has had to face unprecedented challenges to deal with the extraordinarily large number of visitors and residents who have been here this summer as a result of the Covid pandemic.

“The vast majority of these visitors have come to enjoy this beautiful place and have done their best to enjoy their summer safely.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said it has not received any reports or complaints regarding social distancing or abusive behaviour by crabbers in the village.


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