HOMELESS people are camping out on a Southend beach because they have nowhere else to go.

Tents and sleeping bags have been spotted on the beach opposite the Premier Inn on Eastern Esplanade.

Charities are working with Southend Council to try to address the problem, but the council admits the number of homeless people in the town is increasing.

Camping out on the beach were mum and son Jacqueline and Paul Williams, who have come from Northamptonshire.

Paul, 33, said: “My mum was recently made homeless and I’m travelling with her to make sure she’s OK because she’s recently been diagnosed with cancer.

“Everyone’s been cool with us being here, though we had a bit of hassle with someone saying we weren’t allowed to camp on the beach.

“We will probably stay another four or five days, depending what the weather’s like. I want to see all the coasts of the country.”

Martin Terry, Southend councillor responsible for public protection, blamed Government cuts for the increase in people on Southend’s streets.

He said: “There has been an increase in the number of homeless in the town, and most people would tell you they have noticed this recently, and given the weather it’s not surprising some of them are headed to the beach.

“But the Government has cancelled the emergency Hardship Fund granted to councils, which is making it more difficult for people in desperate situations, and I think it’s going to get worse.”

Housing councillor David Norman said the council was working with homeless agencies to try to get the homeless people on the beach back into housing.

He said: “A number of agencies are aware of a small number of rough sleepers camping on the beach and this situation is being dealt with as a priority concern.

“There are safety issues with sleeping or camping on the beach and close to water and it is important for those involved that this is resolved as quickly as it can be.

“Therefore, St Mungos Broadway, the council and Family Mosaic have taken a supportive approach to resolve this situation.”

One of the groups working with people sleeping on the seafront has been Southend Street Spirit.

Member Caroline Fricker said: “We go out Saturday nights and we did help one person to move their tent off the beach because everything was wet inside.

“A lot of these people are looking for somewhere to hide because it’s getting very difficult to find anywhere that’s safe and away from the crowds.”