HUGE “football crowds” have been barbecuing on golfing greens which means the club has to stay closed for longer, a councillor claims.

Huge crowds have been spotted at Belfairs Golf Course, in Leigh, taking their daily exercise during the Covid lockdowns.

Stephen Aylen, independent councillor for Belfairs, said he had never seen crowds like it at the course.

He said: “There are football crowds on Sundays and it’s absolutely packed, I want to see wardens patrolling over there.

“It’s a great course and there’s no respect at all. People have been riding bikes, playing football and even having barbecues. It’s been completely wrecked and has been as packed as the seafront.”

Kevin Buck, Tory councillor for Prittlewell said he was disappointed the council hasn’t opened up just half the course.

He said: “It’s losing valuable income and people are going elsewhere. There’s also a danger the longer it’s shut there less likely it is people pay attention to it being a golf course.”

Council bosses say they are working to open it as soon as they can.

Paul Jenkinson, head of parks for Southend Council, said: “We are keen to welcome golfers back to Belfairs Golf Course as soon as possible.

“However, due to the extremely wet winter we endured, along with large numbers of residents walking through and across the golf course while visiting Belfairs to exercise during lockdown, part of the course remains unsuitable for play.

“We are planning on opening half of the course from April 6 to allow some players back to the course, but we must ensure the course is in a suitable condition before bringing people back to the full course.”