Motorists who park illegally on the streets near to the seafront run the highest risk of being hit with fines, council data shows.

The five areas in Southend most-hit with parking fines - which includes Westcliff Parade - are all within less than a two-mile radius of each other and near to the seafront.

Chris Richardson, who chairs the Tower Court residents Association on Westcliff Parade, said: “I am not surprised to see Westcliff Parade so high on this list.

"The real problem is the Cliffs Pavilion which has an audience capacity of about 1,600 people.

“Often they are not all from Southend and may find it difficult to see the residents parking signs or may have parked here before and not noticed that a residents parking scheme has been introduced. I would expect the number to go down as people learn of the change.

“It is well signposted so there is no excuse”.

Mr Richardson added he believes there are plenty of parking spaces available in the surrounding area.

The top five hot spots for fines are also close to the Seaway car park, which has been the focus of controversy due to a planned leisure complex that will slash the number of available parking spaces in the area from 660 to just 555.

One of the most vocal critics of the scheme, Adventure Island owner Philip Miller MBE, who accused the council of chasing revenue through parking fines.

“This council has been anti-motorist for years but loves the revenue,” he said.

However Ron Woodley, who oversees transport, said the leisure development is unlikely to exacerbate the problem of people parking illegally.

He said: “In terms of on-street and off-street parking, we currently have about 6,375 parking spaces that are payable and that’s without considering the ones that are free in places such as Eastwood and West Leigh.

"We are talking about in excess or around 7,000 parking spaces available.

“I know there is talk of a reduction in Seaway parking but if you take the original agreement which was for 468 it is nearly 100 more spaces. The only reason we are looking at 660 now is the previous administration chose to remove coach parking from Seaway.”

Other areas to see motorists hit with high numbers of fines include Fairheads Green Car Park on Eastern Esplanade, Warrior Square Car Park on Chichester Road, Essex Street Car Park and Seaway Car Park on Lucy Road.