A SOUTHEND road resembles ‘the wild west’ as prostitutes and drug dealers roam the streets late at night with residents fearing for their safety as their neighbourhood turns into a ‘red light district’.

Ambleside Drive has long had issues with gangs, drug dealers and prostitution.

Residents have now told of what life is like in the notorious neighbourhood as the council, police and charities attempt to clean up the area which has descended into a ‘wild west’ according to one resident.

“Our road has turned into, in my honest opinion, essentially a red-light district, it’s very worrying living here,” she said.

“I’m afraid to walk along the road alone, even during the day, and while I don’t have kids, I worry for those that do.

“It’s a constant hive of criminal activity, with drug dealers, sex workers and gangs openly staking a claim to the road.”

She added that she had been pleased by Essex Police’s response to the situation but said she wanted more to be done.

“There are clearly more offices in the area as of late, the problem is the gangs see them coming and disperse, as soon as the police leave, it’s back to the same old bedlam,” she said.

In August, Essex Police launched Operation Vimto which has seen more than 50 patrols carried out in the area.

New CCTV cameras have also been installed along the road this year and Southend Council has said it is in the process installing further cameras.

Since the beginning of the operation in August, a total of 41 vehicles have been stopped, three arrests made, and three community protection warnings issued.

“I’ve seen a lot in my life, but never open prostitution like this,” another resident said.

“The way I see it, if you’re going to have an open brothel in a residential street with no security and regulation, just police driving by once in a while, with people with heroin addictions, next to one of the poorest council estates in the area, then what do you think is going to happen?”

He added that female residents, women and girls, were often accosted by kerb crawlers.

“My wife was accosted while walking down the road in the afternoon by a kerb crawler,” he said.

“Another time a young girl was walking to school and was followed by a car. She had to knock on the door of one of the houses for help, she was terrified.”