Wiltshire's top police officer has hit out at plans for mass gatherings across Swindon today.

The so-called ‘UK Freedom Movement’ circulated a poster on social media suggesting people should deliberately break the lockdown guidelines by gathering in Coate Water and Lawns parks at noon.

But Chief constable Kier Pritchard labelled the plans as irresponsible.

He said: “We recognise that the government guidance is changing and people will have slightly more freedom to enjoy outdoor space but we must all do this sensibly and continue to follow the social distancing rules.

“Calling for a mass gathering is a flagrant breach of the regulations and guidance on social distancing, and is wholly irresponsible.

“The number of people who have sadly lost their lives to coronavirus should be sobering for us all.

“There will be people who want to enjoy some of our outdoor spaces this weekend and, under the new guidance, they are able to do this with people they live with or one other person from a different household and should adhere to social distancing.”

People have already been enjoyed the new freedoms with multiple households spending time on Friday at Coate Water relaxing in the sun of feeding the ducks.

Chf Con Pritchard added: “We know that everything that we do can have a consequence and an impact.

"It’s so important that as members of the public we look to make sure that wherever we are going we can arrive there and can sensibly enjoy the time outside.”

Swindon Borough Council has reopened car parks at its major parks, including Coate Water, but is reminding people that social distancing still applies.

A spokesman for the council said: “People in Swindon have done a great job in observing the social distancing guidelines and we would encourage them to keep up the good work this weekend following the slight relaxation of the government’s guidelines.

“We reopened car parks at our beautiful country parks so we know many people will be tempted to take advantage of the good weather.

“All we ask is that people keep two metres apart at all times and only enjoy the parkland with members of their own household or one other person from outside their household, as per the advice.

"Visitors who have to pay for parking should use the PayByPhone mobile ticketing option where possible.”