Thousands of sunseekers flocked to Southend yesterday - and similar numbers are expected again today. 

Traffic along the seafront ground to a halt throughout Saturday afternoon, while Southend Pier was forced to close early due to the high volume of visitor numbers. 

Southend Council called on motorists to use town centre car parks rather than those based near the seafront to ease traffic on the roads. 

Western Esplanade and Marine Esplanade were particularly busy throughout the afternoon.

A picture of the seafront shows hundreds of people camped out on the beach soaking up the sun. 

Paul Thompson, who owns several businesses along the seafront, said: "It was a very busy day but that is very welcome. 

"There were thousands down here and I'm expecting it'll be the same today. 

"There's been lots of police around talking to people and the council has done a good job clearing the rubbish away.


"It's always good to see it busy, even if the traffic was heavy. It's a combination of people wanting to enjoy the sun and getting out again after being stuck indoors for so long.

"We're hoping it'll stay busy and if it does, Southend is ready and waiting."

Police have ramped up patrols in Southend and Leigh this weekend in anticipation of a high volume of visitors. 

Officers are urging people to be sensible and have warned they will not tolerate any violent or disorderly behaviour. 

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The warning comes as England are set to play their first match in the European Championships on Sunday. 

Police have so far praised residents and visitors in the area for behaving sensibly. 

Chief Supt Simon Anslow, who oversees policing in the south of the county, added: “I want to wish everyone a happy and safe weekend – please look after each other, and don’t be alarmed if you see extra patrols in the area.

“Even if we’re not in uniform, we’re always here to help you. That’s whether you’re in a pub, at the beach, or watching the football.

“We have one message for people across the county this weekend – please don’t be reckless and spoil it for everyone.”