THE bomb squad was called to a Leigh park after ammunition was found on a path leading toawoodland centre.

Bomb disposal experts were called to Belfairs Park after local councillor Stephen Aylen found a 40mm, 1940 Boffer shell on a path leading to the newly built woodland centre.

Mr Aylen, an Independent councillor, said it was the second time he had stumbled across potentially dangerous live ammo, which he said could “take someone’s hand off”.

Southend Council said paths leading to the centre were now being resurfaced as it is thought live shells could be mixed in with the cockleshells that have been laid down.

Mr Aylen said: “I found the shell on the path which has been made of cockleshells. I found one about six months ago. I thought it was the top of a railing so I was walking around with it in my pocket for about two weeks before I showed it to a neighbour, who spent 30 years in bomb disposal and he told me what it was and it was most likely live.

“The police disposed of that one and the council sent people down and they found more. The supplier of the seashells was told, so it is worrying I’ve now found another one. They are meant to be washed and cleaned so it’s a concern.

“Somebody could easily kick one of these shells, or pick one up and I’m told they could take your hand off. It’s really worrying.”

Mr Aylen added: “Police and bomb disposal attended.

Originally, the ammo was to be blown up on the golf course, but due to the number of people around they took it to a safe location to detonate.

“It was X-rayed and thought to be a fuse, slow burning from a 3.7ins anti aircraft shell.”

Graham Longley, Southend councillor responsible for tourism and economic development, said: “We can confirm that councillor Stephen Aylen found what he believed to be an unexploded shell in Belfairs Park where pathways are being resurfaced.

“The matter was dealt with by bomb disposal experts, and we will be investigating how this apparent piece of ordnance came to be in this location.

“The safety of residents and visitors is paramount, so we can reassure everyone that all resurfaced pathways in the park have been thoroughly checked.

“Our advice remains the same. If you should ever find what you suspect could be an unexploded shell, or bomb anywhere, do not touch it but call 999 immediately.”

A police spokesman said: “We were called at 9.40am and awaited the arrival of bomb disposal and kept people away from the area.”

In August, Southend Council finished linking up woodland walkways and cycle routes to the new Belfairs Woodland Centre, which opened in September, last year.