RESIDENTS overwhelmingly support a local lockdown, a readers’ poll has found.

An Argus readers’ poll of more than 1,000 people found that 85 per cent of residents would support locking down Brighton and Hove.

The reaction came as city leader Nancy Platts said visitors could be turned away, businesses might be forced to close and people’s contact with others could be limited if a local lockdown goes ahead.

Councillor Nancy Platts is calling on the Government to grant the council powers to lock down the city after thousands of people swarmed to the seafront at the weekend.

Resident Kerry Pike said: “Having been out to walk to the shop and walk the dog today, I’ve noticed there is no such thing as social distancing in Brighton.”

Another resident, Martin Ryan, said: “Yes, a very good idea for Brighton.

“Teach everyone a vital lesson, locals and prospective visitors alike.

“The pollution of the beaches with overcrowding and unacceptable behaviour by many, has shown that drastic measures are needed.”

However, business leaders have been more cautious of the plans.

In calling for powers to instigate a local lockdown, Cllr Platts suggested that bars and cafes could be closed, but those businesses must be compensated to do so.

Gavin Stewart, Executive Director of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said: “The prospect of a local lockdown is not something that sits warmly with many businesses.

“The only way to mitigate such a move would be hard cash – but the likelihood of central, let alone local government being able to cover that bill is very slim.

“At the moment, businesses are trying to get their heads around what being ‘open’ will look like, whether they have to manage queues outside their premises, what procedures need to be in place for customers to clean their hands and how to manage customers inside their premises.

“Any local lockdown will need to be very seriously considered, as the knock-on effect to the local business community could be hugely detrimental, particularly during the summer season when many businesses rely on that income to get them through the rest of the year.”

All three city MPs are supportive of the proposal of a local lockdown in principle.

Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, said: “The scenes in Brighton over the weekend were a clear indication that social distancing is breaking down and it’s become impossible to enforce.

“When the infection rate is different in different parts of the country, it makes sense for local authorities to have the powers to impose tighter lockdown measures if that is what is needed to protect public health.

“They are best placed to know the local picture and should be involved in decisions about lockdown decisions in Brighton and Hove.”

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “It would seem to make sense to me, as other countries have, that you should have a municipality by municipality approach directed by government, but always based on the medical science.

“As with Scotland and Wales, exercise and travel is advised under 5km from your home so local risks can be managed.”

Peter Kyle, MP for Hove and Portslade, said: “International evidence shows the more local the response, the better the outcomes.

“Going forward as a nationwide lockdown eases, we need to be more agile locally.

“This has to be based on evidence and not politics. So we can’t have policy that profoundly impacts local economies based on a dislike to the people running the county.

“But in Brighton, it is clear that police lack the power to keep us safe and policy is currently delivering Covid directly into our city from elsewhere.”