BROKEN glass, discarded cigarette lighters, half-eaten food and overflowing bins are blighting a popular park.

The Jones Memorial Recreation Ground, off Eastern Avenue, Southend, has become an unsightly mess of litter and rubbish, according to regular visitors.

The public park, which has more than a dozen sports pitches, is also popular with dog walkers and parents of young children.

Childminder Lynda Carter, 55, who lives nearby, said she was disgusted with its current state.

She added: “A group of us took 15 children to the park, only to discover it was quite literally covered in rubbish.

“It was full of broken glass, bottles, lighters – all things that are so dangerous for children.”

Mrs Carter said she had immediately reported the problem to Southend Council, which is responsible for the park.

But she claimed she had to wait on hold and was never given a proper answer as to why it had been allowed to become so dirty.

However, a council cleaning contractor is believed to have visited the park earlier this week, following Mrs Carter’s complaint.

She said: “I have spoken to two other mums, who said the park was often in such a state.

“Only a few days previously, there were loads of discarded used nappies around and once again the bins were overflowing with rubbish.”

Paul Jenkinson, Southend Council’s parks technical officer, said: “The playground area is inspected several times a week, and problems such as broken glass or vandalised equipment would be dealt with immediately.

“We aim to maintain the highest standards of safety and cleanliness at all our parks and open spaces, within available resources.

“However, this is particularly challenging during the warm summer months when usage peaks. We would encourage anyone who spots a problem in any of our parks to report this to us straight away by calling the customer service centre on 01702 215000.

“Park users can also help keep the areas tidy by using the bins provided, or taking their litter home with them.”