BANNING boot camps at a green space is ridiculous say readers - arguing that moving on the boozy yobs who loiter should be the top priority.

Southend Council has stopped boot camps on Marine Parade Gardens, in Leigh, after it found runners had been jumping on the memorial benches, classes had been held without a licence and work out equipment had damaged trees.

But a host of Echo readers have slammed the new restrictions, arguing the focus should be on dealing with the problem of yobs loitering and gathering at Leigh’s waters edge.

Some have questioned why people trying to keep fit are being penalised.

Jackie Hepherd, one of more than 450 who commented on the Facebook page, said: “This is the last of the council’s worries with what Leigh is being turned into by certain youth groups with drinking, drug dealing, intimidating and fighting. 

“Picking on those trying to keep healthy and adhering to the recommended outside exercise guidelines. Think the priorities need reassessing here.”

Andreja Podvez added: “We want to show our kids that people exercise and stay fit, not to walk around numerous alcohol bottles and rubbish left behind by parties.

"All forms of exercise should be allowed on Marine Parade. These signs need to be removed.”

Steve Sexton called for mass gatherings at Old Leigh and Chalkwell Beach to be banned, saying it is “an absolute farce”.

Sarah Bullock added: “I saw a kids’ boot camp the other day going on at Marine Parade and it looked fab. The kids were having a great time.

“Lots of indoor activities have been cancelled and this is a great way to motivate and occupy our youngsters during such an unsettling time for them.”

Defending the ban, Tom Franklyn said he supports green exercise. But he adds: “Why should a memorial bench be damaged because some idiot wants to use it as a box?”

Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “I don’t disagree with the fact that action needs to be taken against the gathering on the seafront, but the council also has to deal with many issues - these are two different departments so to conflate the two doesn’t make sense.  

“I also agree that now is a time many enjoy getting fit - we’re not trying to stop this from happening. 

“The problem is the issues mentioned above, the fact it’s hard to socially distance, and when people want to use the steps to get to the train station they can’t. 

“It’s also dangerous. 

“We realise there are people that do have different views, but the safety, comfort and wellbeing of our residents is top priority.”