RESIDENTS are demanding action is taken after a popular beauty spot was used for an illegal gathering for the second time in a month.

A large group of people are alleged to have met up and partied at Straits Mill in Bocking late one evening.

Eyewitnesses say those involved parked up along Convent Lane before heading to a lake where they spent the evening drinking alcohol and playing loud music.

Social distancing guidelines mean gatherings of no more than six people are permitted due to coronavirus.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said the number of people at the party exceeded the current legal limit.

They are calling for action after Straits Mill was also used for another large gathering in May.

The resident said: “Trees were damaged, camps made, evidence of fires being left, debris strewn everywhere.

“This area has seen an increased level of use over lockdown by families with children, dog walkers, fishermen, runners and cyclists.

“It is now becoming a rubbish dump and we’re starting to worry what we will find after the next meeting.”

They added: “Local residents’ concerns are that this can only get worse.

“It is already viable that week on week more people are turning up as word gets around and summer evenings get warmer.

“When are we going to see it patrolled before the situation gets out of control?”

Essex Police said it was not aware of any issues at Straits Mill and had not received reports of an illegal gathering.

A spokesman said: “The vast majority of people across Essex have been doing the right thing and sticking to the Government guidance and we want to thank them for that.

“The use of any premises and open space needs to be lawful and where we receive reports of large gatherings or situations where the Government’s guidance is not being following, we will prioritise it based on the information received and the risks identified.

“Our approach has been – and remains – to engage with the public, explain the guidance, and encourage them to do the right thing.

“Enforcement is a last resort but a step we are not afraid to take if necessary.

"If you’re planning on going to an event, venue or location, please check before you travel to ensure you know who will be there, who is in charge, and if it is in line with the Government’s guidance.

"Our priorities haven’t changed: we continue to catch criminals and keep people safe.

"Officers are out across the county protecting vulnerable people, supporting victims, being visible in our communities and targeting those intent on causing you harm.

"If you see an unlawful gathering taking place in your community, you can report it to us online:

"If there is an emergency, please call us on 999."