BAILIFFS have evicted homeless people camped illegally on Southend seafront this morning.

The town's county court granted the council a possession order and injunction at the end of November, enabling the four campers left at Clifftop Gardens to be removed.

And the bailiffs visited the site shortly after 11am after the council had helped 23 homeless people to move on from various seafront locations during the summer.

The remaining campers had declined offers of help.

Council leader Ron Woodley said it had been "extremely difficult" to decide on the appropriate course of action.

He added: “This course of action brings me absolutely no pleasure but I feel we have explored and exhausted every avenue available to us over the past few months to help these people.

“Our borough has some of the best services for homeless people in the region and currently has a winter night shelter scheme operating until March.

"We have a fantastic group of volunteers in the town who freely give up their time and resources to provide food and shelter for those in need, and I thank them for all they do.

“For their own welfare, these final few people must move on. It is getting colder and wetter weather is forecast. This is an unsafe area that has experienced cliff slippage and is still subject to land movement, so there is a real risk that they could be seriously injured if they stay.

"Compounding that risk, their living conditions are becoming increasingly unsanitary, which not only endangers their own health but also carries a wider public health risk."