'Horrendous' night flights to and from Southend Airport are driving neighbours to sleeping tablets and anti-depressants.

It comes as Tory leaders have slammed the flights night flights, pledging to “explore every avenue possible” to have them removed.

Conservative councillors – in opposition at the Civic Centre – have made it clear they back “further controlled expansion” but want night flights removed.

Some residents say they are being forced to take sleeping tablets because of the disruption caused by night flights.

June Carr, who has lived at her home in Wells Avenue, Southend, for more than 30 years, has been fighting against the airport expansion for several years.

June and her husband, Alex, have resorted to sleeping tablets.

June, told the Echo: “We’re all on sleeping tablets and anti-depressants. The noise can go on for an hour - one night the noise went on from 3am until 4.55am.

“The airport enforced this on us with no communication or consultation. They should buy us out. No one should live with this noise and carcinogenic pollution so close, it’s neglect by the council. No one seems to care about the residents or their health.”

Another resident Carol Bonnett, 58, added: “We’re sleeping on a mattress on the floor in our front lounge because we can’t sleep. I’ve got sleeping tablets from the doctors.”

Lib Dem councillor, Carole Mulroney, said: “The decision as to whether to agree to night flights was taken by full council. The Lib Dems proposed a counter motion to not have night flights but lost the vote.”

In a statement from the Southend Conservatives, the group said: “We have concluded that whilst we would continue to support the airport and some further controlled growth and expansion, we do not support the continuation of the night flights.

“We feel that while many accept the airport and the flights during the day, the night-time flights are simply a compromise too far and not justifiable as a means to an end.

“We will continue to explore every avenue possible to have the night flight quota removed from the Airport’s Section 106 Licence Agreement.”

Despite the Tory concerns, the Labour, Lib Dem and Independent administration at the council raised concerns over job losses.

Independent councillor Martin Terry, said: “We are witnessing businesses crumbling around us and jobs being lost. That activity provides, based on Government statistics, in excess of 700 jobs.

“More than 200 are directly at the airport, so we have to be very careful about what we are saying and what we are doing.

“I absolutely empathise with the noise nuisance, and there are issues around the types of aircraft, however, at this time we are going to be facing a lot of unemployment should we be turning our back on these jobs.”

A spokesman for Southend Airport, said: “London Southend Airport is permitted on average four night flights per day and consistently operates below that limit.

“The airport works with its airline partners and stakeholders to balance the benefit the airport delivers to the local and regional economy against its impacts, and will continue to do so.”