A BAN on barbecues at Southend’s beaches, parks and outdoor spaces could come into place after hoards of residents were spotted cooking over coals. 

Independent Shoebury councillor Nick Ward was shocked to see roughly 40 people lighting up barbecues at the well-loved East Beach during last weekend, which saw temperatures climb to a scorching 32 degrees.

And with this weekend set for a second dose of scorching weather, Mr Ward is preparing to put forward a motion to the council calling for a barbecue ban across Southend.

He said: “This issue is getting worse every year. I often use the beach, and have seen more and more using great big barbecues as well as smaller disposable ones too.

“There was 40 people at East Beach lighting them this weekend, with two of them even being open next to each other and cooking for 50 odd people like it was some sort of event.

“I’ve had so many complaints from residents about this that I will be putting a motion forward to the council about getting a ban.

“Guests should be able to enjoy the seafront without the smell, the litter which could be left behind, the piles of ash and charcoal and the fire hazard risk. Why not make a picnic instead?

“It’s not just limited to East Beach, I’ve also had reports of it between Thorpe Bay and Shoebury, as well as reports of it in Chalkwell Park and Southchurch Park.

"We need a complete ban so there’s no confusion of where you can and can’t light one up.”

Tim Gillett, 59, from Shoebury, said: “Before 11am on Sunday at least five barbecues were in operation at East Beach, including one where a group was cooking oysters they’d just taken from the beach before high tide.

“I saw one man cooking at least 20 kebabs and there are about 25 burnt patches of grass caused by barbecues at East Beach.”

Larissa Reed, executive director for neighbourhoods and environment, said: “The purpose built barbecues were set up on East Beach as a means to allow barbecues to take place in a safe way.

"We would always encourage people to use those when wanting to have a barbecue at the beach.

“There are no particular by-laws regarding barbecues and outside cooking, which apply to the beach at East Beach.

"However barbecues should not be lit in the car park and there is clear signage in place about this. We would ask that people use the spaces responsibly and with consideration to those who live close to them and other users.

“East Beach is a hidden gem in Southend, not many outside visitors are aware of it. We have started conversations to find out the opinions and views of local people on this matter."