OUTRAGED residents want “illegal” parking meters on their street removed - now.

The three covered parking meters suddenly appeared in Thorpe Esplanade, Southend, with no warning.

But the law states traffic regulation notices must be advertised to residents and are necessary before works of this kind can start.

Signs stating the area is now a “pay and display zone” have also appeared, along with pay by phone/app advice.

Councillor Ron Woodley has hit out, claiming the meters should not be there and Southend Council could be open to a legal challenge.

He said: “These things went in without proper consultation. The council put the machines in and then consulted so they already pre-determined it as well having it in the budget.

“They have failed to see and ignored the environmental impact on residents, particularly in Colbert Avenue, Burgess Road, Burgess Terrace, and Gloucester Terrace.

“I am deeply concerned that they have done this again without formal consultation taking place.

“We have put a Stage 1 complaint in to the council on this, but haven’t had a response yet. We will then move to a Stage 2 and Stage 3 complaint, and then to the Local Government Ombudsman if we have to.

“Any enforcement officer that puts a ticket on with machines covered up are breaking their own procedures.”

Elspeth Spall, a resident of Thorpe Esplanade, said she had put 27 objections in to the council which had all been rejected.

She said: “After installing parking meters and then having to consult retrospectively, the council has created even more confusion this week by putting up parking payment signs while the disputed meters remain covered.

“Local residents, delivery drivers and visitors are all confused as to whether they need to pay for parking or not.

“It is the last bit of free parking left along the seafront and this will affect a lot of people including the disabled beach hut users.”

The council admitted in October that machines were installed before a traffic regulation order was in place, but has since confirmed the order is now up and running.

A spokesman said: “The traffic regulation order has gone through and the required signage is up. Further ‘Remember to Pay and Display’ advisory signs have been installed yesterday and the controlled parking zone will then become operational.”