FRESH calls have been made for barbecues to be banned on East Beach - as one councillor says he has “never known it so bad”.

Nick Ward, Independent councillor for Shoeburyness ward has put forward a motion to the council to have barbecues banned entirely from public spaces.

Youngsters being hurt by hot ashes, fears of fire spreading to homes and burnt benches have led to residents and councillors questioning why they are allowed.

Mr Ward said: “I have been a councillor for seven years and I have never known it so bad. We have up to 50 people turning up for one barbecue mostly from out of the area.

“We have had two children injured by hot ashes in the last year. People bring big barbecues from home and because they don’t want to take the hot ashes home, they dump them anywhere. There is so much damage down there. Even the picnic benches are burnt. It is partly the council because it is advertised on the website as the only beach in Southend allowing barbecues

“I’m not a killjoy. I love a barbecue but they should be held at home.”

Six brick built barbecues are provided on East Beach.

Peter Lovett, vice chairman of Shoebury Residents Association also spoke out after visitors over the warm weekend left scorched ground and blackened wooden tables.

Mr Lovett said: “Our residents are fed up seeing timber tables and benches being ruined, our grass being burnt and our children being placed at risk with hot ashes.”

Mr Lovett added: “If the council wishes to allow equipment to be destroyed, they need to either replace them or change tables to concrete. Perhaps the council should explain why they think East Beach is safer or more suitable than other beaches?”

Resident Sandra Uden-Ilett said she had complained to the Rochford and Southend East MP James Duddridge.

She said: “We live on East Beach Park and the homes that back onto East Beach are prone to catching fire if the barbecues should get out of hand. Some of us have trees behind our homes and if the dry grass or trees catch fire we will be right in its path. My back fence is 10ft from my home so not far for fire to travel.”

Lynne Simpson added: “I noticed the other day that barbecues are being lit in front of every bench now. It is disgusting and someone is going to get burnt with the hot ashes one day.”

Former Shoebury councillor Roger Hadley said: “I was one who pushed for the barbecue but the council has not maintained them how they should be. The ashes are not cleared often enough and there are not enough metal bins.

“People enjoy the barbecues but there is not enough of them. All the council needs to do is put a few concrete slabs in the grass.”