DEAD rats have been spotted in Priory Park just weeks after residents reported seeing dozens of rodents scurrying around and close to the children's play area.

Southend Council has insisted the rats and the "occassional smell" from the stream in the park are "natural", however residents have raised a number of concerns.

One resident, who visited the park earlier this week, was shocked to see multiple dead rats resting on the floor and multiple over rodents running around.

Photos taken by the man shows the rats coming in and out of a burrow adjacent to the lake.

This comes after large rats were seen venturing into the children’s play area by one resident earlier this month, sparking fury from residents.

Southend Labour councillor, Mandy O'Connor, said she is aware of work being done by ward councillors for the area to tackle the issue and put resident's mind at ease.

The councillor, responsible for the Victoria ward, added: “However, dead rats cannot be left lying around Priory Park because it is non-hygienic.”

Southend Council has insisted measures are in place to keep the number of rodents in the park down, and also urged visitors to play their part by avoiding leaving any mess behind for the rat's to feast on.

A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of brown rats at Priory Park and have measures in place to control their numbers. These mammals are highly adaptable and will happily live in a variety of habitats.

“Brown rats are common and widely spread throughout the UK, in both urban and rural locations near human habitation and are already one of our most common mammals in Britain.

“The availability of food will affect both the number of rats living in the park and the effectiveness of control measures. Brown rats are omnivorous and will eat almost anything.

“Visitors to the park can help us in controlling the population by taking leftover food from picnics home with them and not overfeeding the ducks, as any food the ducks do not eat is likely to be taken by the rats.”