POLICE have launched a probe after a group of travellers took over two Canvey seafront car parks.

About 15 caravans and cars crammed into the two small seafront car parks on Tuesday night.

The first encampment was set up outside the Windjammer restaurant and bosses there were told the group would be gone by 4pm last night, however the encampment was still there yesterday evening.

More caravans were also spotted in another car park further along the seafront.

Council bosses say a welded entry barrier had been broken.

Castle Point Council have confirmed the caravans at the Windjammer are on private land and that officers are continuing to monitor the situation.

Norman Smith, council leader, said: “We are obviously quite disappointed to see this happening. We have taken precautions to stop them coming onto our land.

“I think there are about 15 overall - some in the Windjammer car park and some in a smaller seafront car park near to the Lubbins site, where a welded entry barrier had been broken.

“If there are no issues while they’re here and they co-operate, then great, but I do worry about the mess and damage they could cause. With social distancing, it’s difficult because they are from the same families, so it’s similar to being in the same household.

“There have been times in the past when there has been no issues, but there have been other times where the council has had to spend thousands of pounds to clear things up.

“There’s also always the question where they will go next. They tried to get into the Haystack car park but the owner stopped them from going in there.

“We have obviously set the wheels in motion to ask them to leave. If they use these tools to get in we can’t really stop them but we can certainly take the procedural steps to move them on.”

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “We were called around 8.30pm on Tuesday evening with reports of an unauthorised encampment on Eastern Esplanade, Canvey. Officers attended and are liaising with the land owner to monitor the situation.”

Residents took to Facebook to raise their concerns that social distancing rules were not being followed, with others even reporting seeing broken glass and human faeces left on the children’s area of the beach opposite where the caravans are parked.