A SALVAGE yard owned by a council leader has been raided by police officers searching for stolen cars.

Dozens of officers were spotted descending on the land let out by Castle Point Council leader Norman Smith, who confirmed he had no idea what was allegedly going on at the Northwick Road site in Canvey.

Officers first arrived on Monday remaining there on Tuesday.

Witnesses reported seeing officers inspecting what looked like abandoned vehicles and car parts on the salvage yard.

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of stealing cars following the raid.

Tory leader Mr Smith stated the use of the land was outside his control as it was sublet by his tenant.

He said: “I partly own the land and rent one of the yards to someone who then sublets it to a company we are unaware of, with my permission.

“I don’t have the full details but I was alerted to what had happened. If there’s been illegal activity by a sub-tenant it’s very hard for me to blame the main tenant because I guess he was unaware of any activity [which may have been] going on.”

The raid comes months after a huge fire devastated several businesses and killed a dog in July. At that time, Mr Smith said he let the land to a man who sells used cars and they sublet a smaller part to a landscaping company.

Mr Smith added: “The land is set to be moved on anyway because Lidl are taking it over so if there continues to be this kind of aggravation then I may bring the date forward.

“We intend to give the tenants plenty of notice before they have to vacate the land.

“We were totally unaware of any illegal activity because it was behind closed gates.

A man aged in his 30s and a man aged in his 20s, both from Canvey, remain in custody for questioning. Anyone with information call Essex Police on 101.