POLICE broke up a series of boozy gatherings at south Essex beauty spots over the weekend.

Beer bottles, cigarettes and nitrous oxide pellets were left at Old Leigh after a rave on the seafront on Friday night.

Police invoked emergency powers to prevent a planned repeat the next day. Fifty people were moved away from the area before they could cause any disruption.

Amber Bond, who owns cleaning company Wings Cleaning Services, spotted the rave while walking her dog.

After being stunned by what she had seen, she returned on Saturday to help tidy up the mess.

A hardy group of volunteers were already on the scene.

Amber said: “We are so upset about it. There were beer cans, beer bottles, vodka bottles, wine, spirit cans and cannisters for balloons which I think are nitrous oxide.

“There were also tons of cigarettes. It was like cleaning up after a festival. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Chief Insp Ian Hughes, district commander for Southend, said: “I was disappointed to see the volume of people in the High Street however it is important to acknowledge that the majority of people continue to comply with social distancing.”

The following night a large group of people were seen gathering at Hadleigh Castle just after midnight.

Police introduced a dispersal order, and were able to clear the area within an hour.

Officers said the vast majority were co-operative, but police are investigating after a man approached them in Castle Lane to say he had been hit with a bottle.

He was left with bruising.

Sgt Alfie McPhilimey, of the Castle Point Community Policing Team, said: “Within a short period of time, the entire area was clear, and this is testament to the quick actions of our officers.”

It came as Home Secretary Priti Patel warned the rise of mass gatherings over the weekend was “unacceptable” and risked a second deadly spike of coronavirus.

'Create booze-free zones to curb boozy behaviour' 

CAMPAIGNERS are demanding booze-free zones on beaches and the sea wall to reclaim Old Leigh from “hordes” of partygoers who left mountains of litter.

A petition is calling on Southend Council to act over fears of more anti-social gatherings in the Old Town as the Covid-19 lockdown eases.

Ronald Sverdloff, who started the petition on 38 degrees, said: “Following the easing of the coronavirus lockdown, and before the pubs have reopened, the conservation area known as Old Leigh has witnessed hordes of people who have brought their own alcohol, sitting on the sea wall, drinking and then and throwing their empty bottles and cans into the sea.

“We think that this trend will continue after the pubs re-open, especially as the pubs will not be able to accommodate the same numbers of drinkers as before lockdown.

“We want this ban so that we can reclaim our lovely historic area for the ordinary daytrippers and tourists who visit our famous fishing village and who have recently been deterred by these antisocial gatherings.”

To sign the petition go to you.38degrees.org.uk and search for Old Leigh.