AN operation has been launched by Southend Council to cope with the huge number of tourists expected to flood into the town this weekend.

Operation Heatwave, normally only used for peak summer weekends, is underway for the Easter bank holiday weekend.

The council are expecting huge numbers of tourists to attend the town, as the Met Office has announced temperatures are expected to top 20°C while the Southend Shakedown Resurrection is set to take place on Easter Monday.

The newly constructed right-turn lane from Queensway into York Road will be open, allowing motorists to access the York Road and Tylers Avenue car park more easily and without having to do a u-turn around the Seaway car park roundabout.

Southend’s Community Safety Team will be patrolling the town centre and seafront throughout the weekend, with security firm Stambridge providing extra help on Monday.

Council staff will be at Seaway and Fairheads car parks to help visitors find parking spaces and help them to pay for parking.

Parking at Southend Civic Centre and the Beecroft Gallery will also be signed from Victoria Avenue over the weekend, giving visitors the opportunity to park all day from £3.

The Gasworks site on Eastern Esplanade will serve as overflow car park on a pay-by-phone only basis from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.

On Monday, traffic will be suspended along the seafront between 9am and is expected to reopen at 5pm in order to create dedicated parking for 2,000 motorcycles on a ticketed basis.

A wristband scheme will also be implemented by Southend Business Improvement District which aims to reunite lost children with their parents.

Each band, worn by children, will have parents’ or carers’ details written on them.

Southend tourism boss Scott Dolling said: “We are deploying extra resource into our waste, community safety and highways teams to help deal with the extra demand on these services.

"Ultimately, our aim is to provide a safe and pleasant visitor experience that leaves people wanting to return to our town.”

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