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Medway Council facilities at Riverside and Capstone country parks in Gillingham shut due to 'large visitor numbers'

A country park has been forced to close some of its facilities for safety reasons due to large visitor numbers - sparking a huge debate.

Medway Council announced earlier today it was to close its cafes, play areas and car parks at Riverside and Capstone country parks as there were too many people.

Capstone Country Park. Picture: Stock Image/Medway Council
Capstone Country Park. Picture: Stock Image/Medway Council

Large visitor numbers were notched up as families enjoyed the beautiful balmy weather.

Temperatures began to climb today after weeks of sub-zero blasts brought widespread ice and snow, ending with Storm Darcy.

Some visitors took to social media to complain about being turned away by police at park entrances.

Riverside Country Park is a coastal park found between Gillingham and Rainham and covers around 100 hectares while Capstone is in Chatham near Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre.

Riverside Country Park as previously captured by Derek Gallagher
Riverside Country Park as previously captured by Derek Gallagher

The local authority admitted it understood people would be upset with the decision, but wanted to keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

It said: "We understand the disappointment this may cause but the health and wellbeing of residents is our top priority."

The decision sparked a huge debate, with many disagreeing with the council's decision.

Abbie Fenech posted: "It is half term and the first day in a very long time when the weather has been nice, so of course people have decided to visit their local country park with their family which is within the current government guidelines.

"Children have been stuck indoors for months now, effecting their mental heath dramatically, going to the park and letting their children run and have fun for a small portion of the day is necessary.

"For everyone commenting saying parks should be shut I would like to know what percentage of you are at home with small children yourself? If you don't want to attend these places due to fear of the virus spreading then you are within your rights to do so but before you pass judgment of people just stop and think for a second."

Steph Emma added: "Avoiding Covid is just one area of health, surely mental health is as important? How is closing parks going to improve anyone’s well-being? Such a joke."

But Janet John argued: "If people followed the rules it would not be a problem. Some people will not wear a mask or social distance so I've not got a problem with the police telling them to go home or shut the parks."

Some called for similar action to be taken at other Kent parks.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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