FAMILY memorial benches will be temporarily removed after vandalism and antisocial behaviour in Thorpe Bay.

Southend Council will remove the dedicated benches from Thorpe Bay Gardens along the seafront.

The benches were donated by families in memory of loved ones and have been vandalised and become a meeting place for yobs terrorising the community.

The yobs have been racing their cars, littering the area and taking drugs.

Traffic calming measures will be introduced to the road in autumn to tackle the racing issue, but temporary measures are also being considered ahead of the formal works.

The council contacted families that bought benches to explain the circumstances and why the temporary removal is now necessary.

Martin Terry, councillor for community safety and customer care, said: “Anti-social behaviour in this area has escalated significantly recently and some intensive responsive work is needed.

“So whilst the authorities are dealing with the issues, we feel it best to temporarily remove the benches and store them safely in council-owned storage.

“We will review the options once activity in the area has calmed down, it may be necessary to relocate them nearby.

“It is a real shame that the actions of an inconsiderate few are leading to the removal of the benches, which may be distressing for the families who have secured the benches in memory of their loved one.

“However we need to think of the community as a whole and how to tackle to anti-social behaviour in the quickest, most effective way as well as ensuring that memorials purchased in the memory of loved-ones aren’t subjected to repeated vandalism.”

Rod Woodley, deputy leader for the council, also slammed the yobs causing regular nuisance.

He said it was a sad state of affairs when a minority spoils the enjoyment for residents using the benches.

He said: “I have had some emails from residents who use the benches and they were quite reasonable.

“We have been working on this and done all we can without removing the benches.”