There are fears a popular park is becoming a magnet for drug-taking and anti-social behaviour after a shock rise in incidents.

Police have been forced to step up patrols in Maldon’s Promenade Park after drug-related activity skyrocketed by almost a third last year.

The news comes as one man told the Standard he feared for his life as he was chased in his car by suspected drug dealers.

The man was in Promenade Park when he saw a gang of people he said were openly selling drugs.

The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I saw the dealers plying their trade in full view, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be challenged.

“I take my dog down there quite often and there are lots of cars pulling up and doing drug deals.

“I’m not a hero so I wouldn’t go over there and stop them on my own, but they are doing it openly.

“I took my phone and pretended to take a photo, but they caught me doing it and started chasing me - it was scary.”

The man said he had been taking photos from inside his car when the suspects shouted at him and started running to a car.

He said the experience was terrifying, and he is still paranoid about what may happen after the incident.

“They followed me around the roads near to the park,” he said.

“I had to do three laps on the ring road and drove straight through lights in order to get away from them.

“They finally stopped chasing me after a while but this is a small town – they could find out where I live.

“I’m scared for me, but also I work in London most days and I have my wife and children at home.”

He believes more needs to be done to prevent anti-social behaviour in the park.

He said: “It is becoming more and more apparent that there is a problem with vandalism and drugs in the area.

“The Prom has become something of a drugs den.

“Considering the amount of park users, surely it’s time for a full-time ranger service, with proper powers to act as a realistic deterrent.”

The man did not report the incident to the police.

He said: “I should have done but I was shaken up from the incident.

“I was just trying to get away and get home.”

Maldon District Council says it has been made aware of cases of suspected drug dealing and is working with the police to tackle the problem.

A spokesman said: “Any drug-related matters are reported to Essex Police in the first instance.

“If community protection officers receive a report of drug dealing or any antisocial behaviour they liaise with and pass this information on to the local policing teams.

“The community police officers will also look at adding extra patrols to this area.

“With respects to Promenade Park, our CPOs have received reports of suspicious behaviour at the Promenade Park car park and this information has been passed to Essex Police.”