THE Clent Hills could be closed to walkers amid the coronavirus lockdown – Worcestershire council and health chiefs have warned following scenes of traffic chaos around the beauty spot at the weekend.

Worcestershire County Council’s Countryside Team and West Mercia Police say they had numerous reports of traffic problems and of people not observing public health restrictions last Saturday and Sunday (November 21 and 22) and people living close to Clent Hills were alarmed by what they witnessed.

Councillor Karen May, Worcestershire County Councillor for Clent Hills and leader of Bromsgrove District Council, said: “It’s been really concerning to hear from residents in my local area who were concerned about those travelling out of their way to visit the Clent Hills this weekend.

"The levels of traffic coming into the community last Saturday and Sunday were horrendous. There was a lot of angst. I've never seen the Clent Hills like it. We had seven police vans trying to control the situation and Hagley Wood Lane had to be closed."

She added: "I understand exercise is important to everybody.

"I know open air is a great relief and it improves mental health, at a time when that is really paramount, but we all need to continue play our part in keeping the county’s numbers down."

And she urged people to "please exercise and stay local, please walk round your local are, please come back and visit Clent Hills when we're in better times. We can't cope. Traffic was pouring out onto the dual carriageway and people were parking on double yellow lines.

"We had residents that should they have had a medical emergency an ambulance would not have been able to get to them."

Parks and countryside walks in Worcestershire have remained open during lockdown but if visitors continue to disregard the rules that decision may have to be reviewed, officials have said.

Cllr May said: "I don't want to do this but what I want is for people to use common sense."

Inspector Lee Page, from West Mercia Police, said: "We don’t want stop anyone from getting out in the fresh air right now and understand how vital this is for both mental and physical health. What we are asking is that people remain compliant with the current restrictions and if it doesn’t seem possible to do so due to crowds in certain locations – try somewhere else.”

Dr Kathryn Cobain, director of Public Health for Worcestershire, added: “At the moment in Worcestershire, we are starting to see our positive case numbers stabilising. This does not mean they are going down, but the rate of increase is starting to stay consistent. We can’t afford to be complacent now and see our good work undone."