Squatters have reportedly moved into the Frankie and Benny's restaurant in Southend.

Members of the public told the Echo they had seen a group of people breaking into the recently-closed restaurant in Southchurch Road, yesterday afternoon.

One man, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "I saw them breaking in and when I challenged them they said there was nothing anybody could do because it was an empty building.

"They had put a sign on the window but I couldn't make out what it said.

"I told the new safety officers from the council and they said this was the first time they had been aware.

"I rang the police as well but they didn't turn up. It's just not right because it's perfectly usable restaurant space inside and god knows what will happen to it if it becomes a squat.

"Nobody will want to buy it and it will lie empty for years."

Southend Council and the Restaurant Group have been contacted for comment.