SEAFRONTS were packed with sunseekers this weekend as the region enjoyed the hottest days of the year so far.

Daytrippers and residents packed up their beach towels and picnics and flocked to south Essex’s beaches and attractions as the mercury reached 27 degrees on Saturday and temperatures continued to sizzle yesterday.

Traders were counting their takings as the warm weather meant they enjoyed a bumper weekend.

Additional vans and drivers were drafted in by bosses at Rossi’s ice cream company because demand for its products has been so high.

Director Colin Gray said: “It was great to see Southend so busy and all the visitors having a really good time.

“All the beaches were packed with families having fun.

“We’ve had a massive boom in ice-cream sales and we have extended our opening times to support our customers.

“It’s a very busy time for us. We are even having to bring in additional vans and temporary drivers to make sure we can get Rossi’s from our factory to all of our suppliers.

“The consistency of the weather has really helped. It hasn’t just been the odd day here and there so let’s hope it continues.”

Martin Richardson, who owns arcades in Southend and on Canvey said they have reported an extremely busy weekend.

He said: “This weekend has been absolutely manic. The arcades have been packed with visitors who have flocked to the seafront and we are all working on overload.”

Away from the beaches, other attractions have had to find ways to deal with the heat.

Dave Finkle, general manager at Barleylands in Billericay, said: “The heat makes our animals behave very differently.

“We have to make sure we keep on top of our checks and that the animals are keeping hydrated so they don’t overheat.

“They will often seek the shade and generally act more lethargically. But it’s great haymaking weather so the farm’s owners have been busy doing that.”

Councils also worked hard this weekend to make sure visitors and residents were able to enjoy the sun safely.

Southend Council, its waste contractor Veolia, emergency services and the Southend Business Improvement District (BID) worked together to to ensure visitors enjoy the seaside safely.

Support vehicles removed rubbish from the street in a continuous cycle and extra bins were placed out on the beaches.

Street Rangers were on hand to assist with inquiries and first aid as well as assisting the police in cutting crime.

The good weather looks set to continue into the week.

Tom Defty, of Essex Weather Centre, said: “This current hot spell will peak today with highs of 33C possible in some places. There could also be some thunderstorms before the heat builds up again later in the week.”