A HUGE operation is set to target congestion and parking problems in a bid to make life easier for thousands of tourists who are expected to flock to Southend over the bank holiday weekend.

Southend’s seafront businesses and traders are gearing up for a bumper weekend and a huge influx of day trippers is expected.

Southend Council has launched “Operation Heatwave” bringing together teams responsible for highways, parking, waste, the police, CCTV experts and businesses to prevent and respond to any issues.

More loos and a range of measures are being put in place for the benefit of residents and visitors, intended to ease parking issues, cut down on litter, and reunite lost children with their families.

Scott Dolling, director for culture, tourism and property at Southend Council, said: “Anyone who lives here will know that on busy days, seafront car parks can fill up quickly and queues can form at payment meters at peak times.

“What’s more, cars queuing outside already-full car parks can lead to congestion.

“Throughout the weekend, we will be directing motorists to available parking spaces and encouraging use of the Mobon parking app to help tackle any queues at parking meters.

“Extra resources will be available to help deal with additional demand that a busy weekend can create and there are some fantastic reasons to visit.

“Central Museum has the new Saxon display, whilst the London Shipwreck exhibition is now in its last two months.

“Focal Point Gallery has a new exhibition of artist John Wonnacott while there is live music on at the Bandstand in Priory Park and of course the Southend Film Festival will be in full flow.”

As part of Operation Heatwave, the community safety team will be patrolling the town centre and seafront throughout the weekend.

Additional portable loos will be made available on the central seafront, while new public toilets have recently opened at the pier entrance.

The council’s waste contractor, Veolia, is putting extra staff on standby to quickly respond to any issues of beach littering.

Their beach-combing machines will be combing the beaches during the mornings to prepare for visitors while litter pickers will patrol the beaches in the evening.

The council will deploy staff at both the Seaways and Fairheads car park, to help visitors find spaces.

Visitors are encouraged to primarily use town centre car parks.The council is also encouraging visitors to use the town centre car parks.

Parking at Southend Civic Centre and the Beecroft Gallery will also be signed from Victoria Avenue. It is £3 to park all day.