A homeless camp has been cleared after a court order was granted.

Tents and other items were taken from the illegal site off Cliff Gardens near Genting Casino by Southend Council.

The site has been occupied since earlier this summer with concerns raised about unsanitary conditions, anti-social behaviour and littering.

The council is also attempting to obtain a court order to clear another site at North Road cemetery.

Councillor Tony Cox, cabinet member for housing, said: “Our aim is to get people off the streets, into dedicated accommodation where relevant support services are on hand to tackle the complex personal circumstances that often contribute to an individual’s homelessness.

“We also recognise many of the town’s homeless are from outside the area and we first work hard to re-connect them to the communities they have left.

“This is an important area where we differ in approach from some volunteer groups, who work hard to raise funds and distribute tents to the town’s homeless.

“Encouraging homeless people to camp rather than use the dedicated homeless accommodation means that campers are not accessing the services that could turn their lives around and get them off the streets.”

It is understood about 15 people had tents and other items removed, including one named Jay who had bought a tent for £70 on Saturday.

Campaigners from Southend’s One Love Soup Kitchen claimed the council has made the problem worse.

Co-founder, Zoey Smith, 34, said: “I was disappointed when I heard the news, but I was not surprised because sadly this happens regularly.

“I felt particularly sorry for Jay. A lot of the people we deal with rely on donated items and donated tents, but he went out last week and bought his own with his benefits. He spent £70, and just a few days later he has nothing.

“He had invested so he had a good quality tent to live in and was protected.

“Now they have had their tents taken, it is highly likely a lot of them head to the high street for the weekend and find a shop doorway to sleep in.

“But that is only making the situation worse, and they are vulnerable there and more at risk.

“People need to realise that removing the tents is not going to make them go away.”