A SEASIDE attraction which was set to offer free rides was forced to perform a U-turn after Essex moved into a higher tier of coronavirus restrictions.

Walton Pier bosses had announced plans to open up the entirety of their complex free of charge in an attempt to "brighten things up" following a gloomy few months.

Everything from the pier's amusements to fairground rides were set to be enjoyed by both children and adults of all ages on both Saturday and Sunday.

But the free rides offer has now had to be retracted, after Essex's move from medium Covid-19 tier to the high tier cast doubt on the pier's  ability to safely accommodate a suspected influx of guests.

A spokesman said: "Unfortunately it’s been too good a response and we have had to take action that we would have liked to avoided.

"We had been working with Tendring Council to see how best to do this and further to these discussions it has been decided by all parties concerned to postpone the free rides weekend.

"It was feared by many local residents that there was going to be an extraordinarily large amount of people visiting the pier this weekend.

"We at the pier are extremely disappointed that we are not able to do what was proposed, but due to circumstances outside of our control it was felt by us and the council to be more prudent to have control of the numbers visiting."

Bosses at Walton Pier have now promised to run the free rides offer at some point in November, but using a timeslot-based system so the capacity can be controlled.

"This method will allow us to control the amount of people on the pier and will stop potentially many people having to wait," a spokesman added.

More details about this are expected to be released nearer the time, but for now, Walton Pier will remain open this weekend from 12-8pm on Saturday and 12-5pm on Sunday.

All wristbands will cost just £5 each and guests will be expected to adhere to social distancing restrictions and wear a face covering.

To find out more visit Facebook.com/waltonpier.