Sunderland City Council has taken the decision to close more car parks in a bid to deter people from travelling by car to its parks and beaches. 

From this weekend seafront car parks and car parks at all parks will be closed seven days a week for the foreseeable future. 

The action has been taken in anticipation of warmer weather this weekend and Easter weekend bringing more people flocking to the parks and beaches and flouting the government's Stay at Home and social distancing rules. 

Fiona Brown, the council's Executive Director of Neighbourhoods, said: "Our parks and beaches all remain open but we are taking this action to discourage people from travelling to them by car in line with government advice that people should not be making unnecessary journeys. 

"Although most residents have been acting very responsibly, there have been issues with a large number of people driving to parks and the city's beaches. We have also had reports that some children have been using the play areas, which no-one should be doing at the moment because all play areas are currently closed due to the need for social distancing to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.

"With warmer weather forecast for this weekend and Easter weekend we know people will be tempted to head to the beaches and parks. And there have been concerns across the region about groups gathering in parks and beaches, making it very difficult to observe the social distancing rules, so we think now is the right time to take this action. 

"It's very important that we all follow the Government's stay at home restrictions which have been brought in to protect the NHS and save lives. Government advice is that while exercise is important, people should stay local and use the open spaces near their home where possible - they shouldn't be travelling unnecessarily. "

Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said: "I would like to thank the overwhelming majority of people who are adhering to the restrictions which are in place to ultimately help keep us all safe. 

"From the outset, we have been clear that we will engage with members of the public to explain the restrictions and encourage people to follow them. 

"We resolve issues every single day by talking to people and reasoning with them and we will continue with this approach. 

"However, if it becomes the case that people are putting others at risk, where appropriate we will make use of the legislation to stop this from happening