A leading councillor admits authorities need to get a grip on knife-crime in light of a petrol station robbery in Braintree.

Braintree West councillor John McKee described last week's incident as “appalling” and said it highlighted the wider issue of knives.

Essex Police have launched an investigation into the robbery, which happened at the Applegreen petrol station in Rayne Road, Braintree.

A masked man went inside the station at about 11pm last Wednesday and threatened a member of staff with a knife.

The man ordered the worker to open the till and hand him the cash inside.

The thief was handed hundreds of pounds before he fled the scene.

Police say no-one was hurt during the incident.

Speaking to the Times, councillor McKee said he understood concerns the public may have over the incident.

He said: "There isn’t much knife-crime in Braintree compared to other places but one incident is too many as far as I am concerned. You can understand why people would be worried by this kind of thing happening in the town.

“As a society, and I’m including the Government and local authorities like Braintree Council in this, we need to get a real grip on knife crime because it has devastating consequences.

“I think the police are doing really well at tackling it around here though. There’s a lot of focus on county lines drug dealing as well which may be linked to knife crime around here. It’s important we continue to tackle the problem to make sure people feel safe.”

Police are continuing to search for the suspect, who they say was aged in his early 20s.

A spokesman added: "The suspect was described as white and about 6ft 1in tall. He was slim and wore a red hooded puffer jacket, grey Nike tracksuit bottoms and white trainers.

“He had his face covered. We are making inquiries to identify the suspect and are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information to contact us.”

Applegreen has declined to comment on the robbery.

Anyone with information should call DC Gemma White at Braintree CID on 101 quoting reference 42/161297/19.

Alternatively, contact the Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.