MORE than 500 parking fines were handed out by Dorset Council wardens over the last weekend as thousands flocked to the coast - and motorists are being warned they may be towed as they prepare for another influx this weekend.

Dorset Council issued 520 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) last Saturday and Sunday as residents and visitors flocked to the beach to soak up the sun on the hottest weekend of the year so far.

The heatwave enabled the launch of the multi-agency command centre, a multi-million-pound summer readiness plan which was created in response to the high levels of disorder and parking chaos experienced in 2020, and has seen Dorset Council, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council and Dorset Police work together to monitor traffic volumes and parking capacity.

In the Dorset Council area, 171 fines were handed out to people who were parked in car parks and 349 fines were given to people who had parked on the streets.

The roads to Lulworth were closed as the car parks reached full capacity.

Although the weather is not expected to be as hot and sunny this weekend, motorists are being warned that they will be fined or towed if they park inconsiderately or cause an obstruction.

A spokesman for Dorset Council said: "Our parking teams will be working closely with the multi-agency command centre over the coming weekend to monitor traffic volume and parking capacity across the Dorset Council area.

"We'll concentrate enforcement on key tourist hot-spot areas and there are new tow away zones in Lulworth and at Ferry Road in Studland which will be active and enforced.

"We would ask all visitors to park considerately, to check they are not causing an obstruction, and to look at lines and signs carefully before leaving their vehicles."

In stark contrast to the clear skies and beating sun the county has experienced in the past week, the Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for rain this weekend, with a forecast of thunder, lightning, hail and heavy downpours.

A spokesman for the weather forecaster said: "Outbreaks of rain and some thunderstorms are expected to spread from the southwest on Friday night.

"This introducing unsettled conditions to much of England and Wales for Saturday and Sunday.

"Heavy, thundery showers are likely to break out by day, particularly on Sunday when these could be widespread and locally torrential.

"Lightning and hail are also expected."