Joan Tiney, from the Borough Hotel on the seafront, added: “I got down to the seafront at about 3.45pm and I could feel it and said I didn’t like the look of the situation.
“It was ridiculous and I am sure they were coming from London, Dagenham and Barking.
“It was mayhem and there was a horrible toxic atmosphere.
“There was no control whatsoever and I think police should have been prepared for this.
“Police should have been ready for it and I would also like to see knife arches at stations to stop them coming.”
Good point, so...why weren't any set up?
Paul Thompson, owner of Pebbles One Café, was among a number of business owners forced to close early amid fears for the safety of staff.
He said: “We need to see police working ahead and planning for these of sort of incidents and there should have been planning as the weather was forecasted well in advance.
“We can’t keep having this happen, it was shocking and the stench of drugs along the seafront was unbelievable.”
Mr Thompson described the situation as a “shambles” claiming people openly using drugs on the seafront.
He added: “It was teenagers from London and big gangs, I’ve never seen anything like it. “They were doing all sorts of drugs including cannabis, crack pipes and laughing gas.
“My staff were petrified and the police were just not doing anything and there wasn’t enough of them.
“We were told the force couldn’t bring in more resources and there was all sorts going on.
“The chippy had to be turned into an A&E to help someone who was stabbed.”
Sounds like the police were totally wrong-footed here. Boy, they must feel really sheepish, right?
A police chief in Southend has rubbished claims his officers lost control of the streets on Friday and inists the force did everything it could to tackle the fighting. Chief Insp Ian Hughes, District Commander for Southend, is also adamant his officers were prepared for trouble as large crowds gathered on the seafront as temperatres soared. Speaking to the Echo, Mr Hughes said: “I do not think we could have done any more"
Really? The ratepayers seem to think differently...
He added: “I am not aware of any calls from businesses about having extra officers on the ground and if we had wanted extra officers we would have taken them from outside south Essex.
“It was not predictable and we do not lose control, my officers worked hard in a challenging situation and worked hard to work with businesses.
“The 15 stop and searched were negative and found nothing.
"We are continuing the work with operation unit to plan and work ahead.”
You've no plan other than 'deny, obfuscate and lie' as far as I can see...