A rude sign warning outsiders to stay away from a seaside town popular with celebrities has caused fury.
The sign appeared on a lamppost at the edge of Southwold, Suffolk and read: ‘If you don’t live around here f*** off’.
More than half the properties in Southwold are owned by outsiders and it has attracted a host of second home owners.
It is a favourite of celebrities including Twiggy, Dame Judi Dench, David Tennant and Michael Palin.
However, officials have warned against people travelling there during the coronavirus lockdown and residents took it upon themselves to warn visitors away with the crude sign.
The handwritten banner was promptly removed from its spot with local leaders blasting it for being ‘ill-advised’.
The rude sign appeared on a lamppost at the edge of Southwold, Suffolk and read: ‘If you don’t live around here f*** off’
Town councillor David Beavan said: ‘It’s ill-advised. I understand people are frightened and frustrated but we need to be a bit more polite about it.
‘It smacks of xenophobia and that’s not what we’re about. We just want to keep safe.
‘People are naturally worried and anxious about protecting their family and friends.
‘We need the small minority to be aware that they are causing this resentment.’
The councillor added that police had responded promptly to reports of people breaching Covid regulations in the town.
He also said: ‘I know of holiday lets being used for NHS workers, and the owners of those homes have contacted me to let me know. That’s the way it should be.
More than half the properties in Southwold are owned by outsiders and it has attracted a host of second home owners
‘We rely on tourism – and we will welcome people back – but breaking of the rules by the small minority needs to be stamped out.
It comes after authorities threatened ‘self-entitled’ second homeowners trying to escape the shutdown by fleeing to the coastal beauty spot with draconian fines.
Mr Beavan claimed last week ‘we know the people who are breaking the rules’ and police are ‘knocking on their doors’, adding: ‘You can’t hide in a town like Southwold’.
Townsfolk strung banners across Southwold High Street at the start of the epidemic last year warning visitors ‘Please respect us – don’t infect us’ and asking them to stay away.
More than half of the housing property in Southwold is used as second homes and residents have previously reported an influx of visitors whenever new Covid-19 measures come into force.
A furious row broke out last summer as hundreds of wealthy second-homers descended in a bid to avoid the lockdown.
Second homeowner David Shea claimed that without him and others who bought holiday properties, Southwold would become a derelict ghost town – and would lose its pier, restaurants, pubs and industry.
Townsfolk strung banners across Southwold High Street at the start of the epidemic last year warning visitors ‘Please respect us – don’t infect us’ and asking them to stay away
He insisted: ‘Without us there would be no beach huts lining the promenade and the lighthouse could have been inactive and derelict.
‘It is unlikely that the brewery would still be located in the town – none of the hallmarks of a Victorian seaside town that we love would exist.
‘The response to the outbreak has felt far more like an opportunity for many locals to air existing deep-resentment towards those fortunate enough to enjoy a second home in their seaside area.
‘Many second homers consider themselves as locals by owning a home here – they pay taxes which contribute to local services, bring jobs and industry to the area, improve house prices and so may have just as much right to be in an area as those who happened to have been born there.’
But Mr Shea’s defence infuriated many locals who claimed they have been priced out of buying homes in the town where they were born.
Cllr Beavan said: ‘His argument are wrong on so many levels. Our population doubles in the summer and our local health centre would not be able to cope with any outbreak – and the nearest hospital is an hour away.
‘Some 60 per cent of the property here is now owned by people who do not live here permanently. In winter many of the streets are dark and the houses empty – it’s like ghost town.
‘We are fed up with second-home owners who leave their houses empty and then use a loophole to avoid paying rates and tax – we estimate that this applies to more than 200 properties.
‘And meanwhile the smallest end-of-terraced two-bed cottage in Southwold now sells for almost half a million pounds. Local people can no longer afford to live in the place they were born.’