REGULARS have rallied behind a Southend seafront restaurant facing calls to axe its outside seating area which has been in place for more than a decade.

An e-petition has been launched on Southend Council’s website to prevent Ocean Beach, in Eastern Esplanade, keeping its seats outside the popular seafront restaurant.

The owner has applied to the council for a “lawful development certificate” because no formal permission was originally given.

But since the application was submitted a Southend Council e-petition has been launched to try to stop the process.

However, fans of Ocean Beach have been quick to heap praise on the benches saying Southend is “so lucky” to have them.

A post by the venue about the future of the benches garnered more than 400 likes and a hundred comments.

Rosanne Cobbold said: “Yes to the benches, a lovely way to spend a sunny evening in the summer and we even use them on milder days in the winter when we take our dog for a walk. I hope the council lets you keep them and supports your local business.”

Louise Biddiss added: “Love sitting on the benches in the summer , we’re so lucky to have had them given the lack of summer weather and outside facilities, so it’s such a bonus.”

No food or drinks are served to people seated on the benches.

The restaurant bought the seats for customers to use when a smoking ban was brought in back in 2007 and they are also regularly used by beachgoers.

The petition urges the council to “not grant permission to further extend restaurant onto the beach”.

Owner, Jonathan Bacon, said: “Throughout the pandemic these benches were very popular and provided sanctuary for many people. The benches are often used whilst the rest of the beach is empty which proves to us their popularity.

“We do not discriminate who sits on the benches as we appreciate they are not part of our demise and on a public beach, patrons and non-patrons are welcome.

“Indeed they are often used by school groups, dog walkers and people that make purchases from other nearby food outlets (chip shop, news agents, ice cream parlour) and generally by people who just like to sit and enjoy the tranquillity of the rolling waves.”