SOUTHCHURCH park could become the "biggest beer garden in Essex" and an anti-social behaviour hotspot if it is if it is given the green light to sell alcohol, residents fear.

Southchurch Park Café has applied for a premises licence to serve alcohol and to play music in an enclosed outside area during the summer months.

Southend Council licensing committee met on Friday to consider the application after receiving 21 objections to the application from residents living near the park off Shaftesbury Avenue, Southend.

Resident Mark Alexander, who attended the hearing, said: “Does it pose the danger, once they have an alcohol license in place, that people will stop going to their local pub because it only has three tables in the beer garden and potentially go to what could become Essex’s biggest beer garden with more antisocial behaviour and more noise, even without music?

“It will become a massive beer garden and a flashpoint for antisocial behaviour. With alcohol it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Despite the concerns, café bosses have only requested playing music for three hours on a Wednesday during school holidays, and acoustic music once a week from noon to 6pm as well as on Saturday and Sunday for four hours between May and September.

Cafe owner Natasha Lovell agreed to only serve drinks with food defined as “a substantial meal, including sandwiches”.

John Eves, representing Ms Lovell said: “Southchurch Park cafe has been a family run business since 1992. They only have good intentions to keep the cafe going and bring more people into the park and use the facilities the wonderful park has to offer.”

“In no way do they wish to upset any of its neighbours. It’s sad to say that over the years a lot of things have been removed from the park such as county cricket, mini golf, rowing boats and lot tennis courts. It’s Natalie’s intention to try and keep the public interested in using the park.”

The committee is yet to announce its decision.