PARK gates could be locked up overnight in a bid to stop teenagers gathering after dark to take legal highs.

Dog walkers discovered more than 100 gas cannisters near the play area in Shotgate Park last week, believed to have been left behind by people inhaling nitrous oxide.

Basildon Council cleaning contractors also discovered ten balloons thought to be linked to the empty cannisters of nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas or hippy crack.

Peter Holliman, Wickford Independents Party councillor for Wickford North, said the authority could be forced to lock the park gates up or install CCTV cameras to catch the people responsible for antisocial behaviour.

He said: "It is a nice park and it is also well used by dog walkers and residents.

"There are a few different ways to combat this. We could look at CCTV on the park or also look into locking the gates of the park.

"The thing with locking the gates of the park is that it may stop people, who are not do things like this, from using the park.

“I think this would be a shame.”

Eunice Brockman, 59, of Mount Close, Wickford, regularly walks her dog at Shotgate Park, off Southend Road, Shotgate.

She said: “It is dreadful.

“My concern would be that my dog or another dog could pick these canisters up and get hurt. It has been going on for some time and this is the third time that dog walkers have found the laughing gas canisters.

“It seems to be worse when the whether gets better and these people gather in the park with laughing gas.”

The legal high gives users a similar feeling to illegal drugs, leaving them feeling relaxed, euphoric and giggly.

It has been branded dangerous as it slows down the brain’s and body’s responses, sometimes causing dizziness and fainting.

If taken with alcohol, nitrous oxide can be fatal.

Last summer Basildon Council began locking the gates at Lake Meadows Park, in Billericay, overnight after people living nearby complained about youngsters congregating to inhale laughing gas.

Just two years earlier the authority had stopped shutting all park gates across the borough to cut £80,000 from its annual budget.

A spokesman for Basildon Council said: “Council staff cleaning Shotgate Park found ten balloons that could be related to these canisters in the park.

“We are keeping an eye on the situation to see if it escalates and we will keep the police informed where necessary.

“If we find any evidence of drugs paraphernalia, we always report this via our internal reporting system for our anti-social behaviour team to monitor.”