A CHILD was left with a head and back injury after slipping into a gap between the rocks on Southend seafront.

The incident, in which the child was treated at the scene by paramedics, has triggered an online debate among parents as to whether or not the Three Shells Lagoon is a safe place for children to play.

The lagoon, on Southend’s Western Esplanade, which opened in July 2016 thanks to £1.25m of coastal communities funding, is made up of over 14,000 cubic tonnes of granite rock which mark out the football pitch-sized lagoon.

Southend Coastguard Terence Coker, who responded to the incident, said the parents were planning to make a formal complaint.

“They were quite upset,” he said.

“The council have put notices up to warn people of the dangers, but kids will be kids.

“It won’t be the first rescue we’ve done, and it won’t be the last.”

Mr Coker said he has attended three major incidents in the last year.

“One adult slipped and wedged himself between the rocks, we had to move the rocks to get him out,” he explained.

“During Southend Carnival last year, a young girl was down there with her friends and her friends’ parents.

“She had climbed down and got her leg wedged between the rocks.

“We had to try everything – including washing up liquid – to get her leg out. “Eventually, the fire brigade came and moved the boulders using their hydraulics equipment.

“That was quite an eventful day for us.”

Councillor Ann Holland, Southend’s executive councillor for culture, tourism and the economy, claims there are now enough signs, and more won’t make any difference.

She said: “It’s unfortunate that people don’t adhere to these warnings.

“We also have staff from the pier who come down to the lagoon to tell people to get off the rocks, but they often get a mouthful of abuse back at them.

“There’s not much else that we can do about it.

“It is really sad that a boy has been injured.

“But people have to act responsibly.

“When the sea is out, children can’t paddle and swim there.”

Alicia Nichols, a mum-of-three from Rochford, said she would never let her children walk on the rocks.

“As a parent it’s my responsibility to watch my children and make sure they are safe. I’ve seen children as small as five on these rocks. The lagoon could be enjoyed if parents took more care.

“There’s no difference between this lagoon and the giant rocks on Shoebury beach. Parents need to take responsibility.”

Dominic Lodbrok, a prison officer from Southend, said: “It’s part of growing up. Keep wrapping kids in cotton wool and you raise a generation of brats.”