ROUGH sleepers have set up camp in a cemetery where world war heroes are buried.

Members of the homeless community have been spotted sleeping in the North Road Cemetery, in Southend.

It comes weeks after Southend Council served an eviction notice on rough sleepers living in tents on the picturesque hills off Cliff Gardens - a conservation area between Southend and Westcliff seafront.

The cemetery is no longer open for burials and has been the target of antisocial behaviour for some time. Railings were previously installed to keep vandals out.

David Norman, Labour councillor for Victoria ward, said: “We have had some concerns for some years over misuse of the cemetery and there was some serious vandalism a few years ago.

“I wasn’t aware there are rough sleepers are moving in there but they have been looking round for a place to pitch their tents.”

The grave of a female solider from the Second World War is situated in the cemetery, along with many other servicemen.

Mr Norman added: “We have been concerned about the state of the place and it is better than it was. My colleague, Margaret Bolton, was responsible for getting a railing put in to try to keep intruders out.

“We will have to take another look if there is more misuse of the cemetery.”

Last week the Echo told how five tents had pitched up in a loading bay under the Victoria Shopping Centre, in Southend town centre. Washing could be seen hanging on metal fencing.

Historian Arthur Woodward, of Bournemouth Park Road, said: “I think it is terrible what is going on.

“The council have to do something to keep people out before they start smashing up graves and causing a mess.”

It is unclear exactly how many rough sleepers are using the cemetery regularly. The council says it aware of a woman sleeping there.

A spokesman for Southend Council said: “We were made aware on Monday morning of reports of a rough sleeper in the North Road cemetery. A member of our cemetery and crematorium team has visited the cemetery to confirm this.

“Staff from this team, and our housing and legal services are now working together to assess our next steps.”