A row has broken out after second-home owners arrived back to a coastal town dubbed 'Chelsea's playground' - and immediately took to the sea in boats and yachts, writes Tom Bevan.

Several high-end cars have appeared in Salcombe overnight with their vessels after travelling from affluent parts of the UK.

The Devon town - known as the wealthiest in the UK - has only around 40 per cent of permanent residents who are mostly elderly.

But the lockdown, which has seen the town largely empty since March, was eased on Sunday allowing travel across the UK.

Some believed it gave them the green-light to return but local residents say it has left them 'extremely frightened' about the virus.

The advice from the government now allows people to visit second homes but not to stay in them overnight.

But local residents have reported seeing several high-end cars including multiple Range Rovers arriving back in the town this week that they hadn't seen for months.

And despite several people being seen 'flouting the rules' local councillors said they were powerless to do anything about it.

Residents have reported some second-home owners to the police, but it is understood a loophole where one member of the family has it registered as a primary residence means there is little they can do.

Salcombe town councillor Tony Lang, 69, a window cleaner by trade, said: "The rules are quite clear, they're not supposed to be here.

"There have been quite a few of them coming down. It's a bit annoying because we've been relatively clear of it down here and the attitude seems to be, 'what's the problem, I don't have it'.

"But the trouble is no one knows if they have had it.

"I'm worried that people here may get the virus, there is an increased risk. If we get people travelling from all over the country it's a greater risk.

"The police are in an awkward situation because the law isn't clear what people are meant to do at the moment.

"After Boris' last speech it's all up in the air."

Salcombe has often been recognised as Britain's most expensive seaside town where the average property costs more than in London.

It has been nicknamed Chelsea-on-Sea and famous faces including Sir Michael Parkinson, singer Kate Bush and former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward are said to have holiday homes in the town.

A large number of permanent residents are elderly and being shielded as they are in high-risk category.

The town is home to roughly around 1700 residents throughout the year, with the population rocketing to around 25,000 in the summer.

It is understood the estuary reopened on Wednesday, but vessels won't be able to launch until Monday as it is currently blocked by machinery.

Several locals described the actions of second home owners as "selfish."

Elsie Hardy said: "I can't believe how selfish some folk are and I also think the police should be given more power to stop all this movement - but their hands are tied by Government rules.

Nicki Wiltshire added: "Selfish morons hopefully they will be sent back."

While Martin Taylor wrote: "There goes Devon and Cornwall's low number because of selfishness.

"They don't understand our health services and hospitals will not cope with the extra number.

"Devon is closed. Stay at home! Not your holiday home!"

Ruth Irvine added: "Selfish people but what do you expect. The wealthy think they can do as they wish with no concern for others."

But others defended the second-home owners right to stay in their properties.

Steph Lorenzo wrote: "If you own a property you should be allowed to reside in it, as long as social distancing measures are adhered to. People are back at work and crushed together on public transport in London, that's more frightening."