MP DEBBIE Abrahams is seeking clarity on travelling during the Covid-19 pandemic after scores of motorists invaded a Saddleworth beauty spot last weekend.

Visitors from across the North West filled car parks at Dovestone Reservoir, Greenfield in a couple hours of opening causing grid locks, illegal parking and blocking vital farm entrances.

And Dovestone has become a sounding board for other communities where people ignored the social distancing rules.

In a message Dovestone lovers, the Oldham East and Saddleworth MP said: “Unfortunately, with the third lockdown announced last week by the prime minister, once again we’ve seen more anti-social behaviour and flagrant flouting of Covid restrictions at Dovestone with social distancing being ignored, and people clearly exercising with more than one person outside their household and not exercising locally.

“This is hugely disappointing given the seriousness of the pandemic and the new, more infectious Covid variant we are seeing here in Oldham and Saddleworth.

“The consultation for a ‘community led visitor strategy’ includes many elements which are designed to address the issues identified by many residents, including the potential for electronic signage, CCTV and modified car parking in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour, inconsiderate parking, and increased littering.

“Clearly, a long term solution to this ongoing problem for people living near Dovestone needs to be found.

“Unfortunately, the problem with so many people visiting the area, because it’s so beautiful, is clearly being exacerbated by the vagaries of the Government’s guidelines during this new lockdown, and in particular what constitutes ‘not travelling outside your local area’ for exercise.

“I will be writing to the Home Office, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, asking as part of their regular review of their guidelines, they give the public, and police who have to enforce the rules, clearer guidance on what is and what is not acceptable during the pandemic, as they did in the first lockdown last March.

“I’ll also be asking United Utilities, as the owners of the private land around the reservoir, as well as other organisations, to look closely at the messaging on their websites and other social media platforms, which could inadvertently be contravening the guidelines by encouraging people who don’t live locally to visit the area.”

United Utilities say Dovestone marshals will be remain on weekend duty on the site.

UU spokesperson said: "Our reservoir and recreation sites were not as busy over the weekend as they have been previously it appears many people are heeding the government's advice to stay local for their exercise.

“However, it is clear that not everyone is following the advice and we continue to work with our partners and use social media to remind people they should not be driving long distances to visit beauty spots.

"We are not planning to close the car parks at our sites because we know from experience that this can simply push the problem of poor parking onto local roads, causing further risks to road safety.

“For now we will continue to fund the traffic marshals at Dovestone at the weekends and we will keep visitor numbers and behaviour under review, along with any changes to Government advice."

They advise anyone planning to visit one of our reservoir sites: If you drive past a park or other green space to reach our sites you are travelling too far - please stay local; strict social distancing is in force to protect you and our employees; follow the countryside code - respect wildlife and take your litter home with you and no camping, fires or barbecues are allowed.