SOUTHEND Council is set to invest £700,000 in seafront toilets to prevent 'residents’ gardens being used as loos by tourists' – and the former marine activities centre has been suggested as the perfect site.

There are a number of toilets on Marine Parade and the seafront, but Ron Woodley, Residents First Councillor for the Thorpe ward has long campaigned for toilets on Eastern Esplanade to prevent gardens being used as impromptu loos by tourists caught short.

Now, Southend Council’s budget papers have confirmed £350,000 will be spent for the next two years on new seafront toilets.

The council is yet to decide whether this will be one large block or multiple small blocks or where they will be provided along the seafront but it has been suggested the former Southend Marine Activities Centre could be a suitable site.

He said: “I believe part of that funding will be for a toilet block along Eastern Esplanade. We definitely need it there. There’s not toilet provision there at all and that area is getting busier and busier.

“I would have thought they would have looked to reconfigure the Southend Marine Activities Centre. That’s been empty for eight or nine years.

“The idea was to allow Billy Hundreds to extend into part of it but I’m not sure if they are still interested and there was going to be the Pier and Foreshore on the other end but they dropped out. In between, in the middle there was going to be the new toilet blocks.

“That part of the beach is getting busier and busier and we can’t have people defecating on the beach and urinating in people’s gardens. We need that toilet block.”

The council unsuccessfully tried to find a company to come on board to provide toilets and maintain them. The council is now procuring a new contractor to carry out maintenance and cleaning.

Meg Davidson, councillor responsible for the environment said: “No final decisions have been made about this as yet. I’m aware councillor Woodley has some preferences so we’ll have to continue those discussions.”