YOBS who cover their faces with ski masks and balaclavas and terrorise residents in Southend city centre should be hit with an instant fine, a councillor has said.

According to Tory councillor Jack Warren, residents have raised major concerns about being intimidated by young people in the High Street and on the seafront covering their faces and donning ski masks to hide their identity.

He is calling for Southend Council to extend its public spaces protection order so face coverings are banned and anyone breaking the rules can be fined or prosecuted.

Southend’s business improvement district has also backed the move and said it will help cut crime and reduce “unnecessary challenges in identifying criminals”.

The current order intended to prevent antisocial behaviour bans things like drinking in the street, begging and spitting or littering.

Mr Warren, Belfairs ward councillor, said: “It’s a topic that comes up on the doorstep all the time – people feeling unsafe on the High Street – particularly in the summer. It’s really just wanting to ensure the High Street is an attractive place for people to spend time and not feel unsafe.

“People are saying they feel intimidated by people with their faces covered. In the summer there is no reason for anyone to be wearing a ski mask unless they are here to cause trouble and that’s the sort of thing we want to stamp out.”

His motion is set to be debated on July 18 at full council, and has been backed by Soutchurch ward councillor Colin Campbell.

Face coverings are often coupled with hoodies but it is unclear whether the ban could extend to hoodies.

Mr Warren added: “You can obviously wear your hood up but if you were to pull it down to cover your face up it would be up to the council officers to work with police to ensure it was appropriate.”

Failure to comply with a PSPO is a criminal offence and can result in prosecution which could lead upon conviction to a fine of up to £1,000 or a fixed penalty notice of £100.

The ban would not include anyone wearing a face covering for medical, safety or religious reasons.