DRIVERS were forced to spend part of the weekend going in circles in a bid to find parking spaces after the signage system broke down.

Signs displayed across Southend normally direct drivers to car park spaces, stating how many spaces are available.

But over the weekend the system failed and signs were left blank as guests were forced to guess whether spaces were available – including at the busy Seaway seafront car park.

This was the second weekend in succession that there have been issues, leaving residents very frustrated.

The signs were out of action on Saturday and back in action Sunday.

Southend Council put the blame on Essex County Council, stating the signs were a joint venture between both councils and the fault was due to “human-error” from Essex County Council.

Former chairman of the seafront traders association, Paul Thompson, raised concerns people were failing to find parking spaces – and then going back home.

He said: “It is shocking, mainly because it has happened two weeks in a row, but also because the council was completely unaware. They are very easy to reset, it is done through a laptop, but again the council was unaware the system was broken.

“They have parking attendants all over town, you’d think one of them would flag up the issue, but it seems not.

“Drivers are going in and out of car parks and driving around the town looking for spaces, it gets to the point you go to two or three and give up and go home again. This sort of thing gives Southend a bad reputation.”

Mr Thompson also raised concerns over the negative effect on trade during what was the last weekend of the school holidays.

A Southend Council spokesperson said: “For five years, there has been a joint working arrangement between ourselves and Essex County Council to allow access to update and change content on Vehicle Management System signs in Southend and the county.

“We have investigated the failure of the signs on Saturday and concluded that it was the result of human error and not a fault with the signage or the software that it operates on.

“We have spoken to colleagues at Essex Highways, where the error occurred, to ensure that safeguards are put in place to prevent the likelihood of something similar recurring in future.”