Bathers have been warned not to use a Leigh beach after raised levels of dangerous bacteria were found.

Water at Bell Wharf has been reclassified as “poor” following test results which revealed the presence of E-coli and intestinal enterocci, most commonly found in faeces.

Southend Council officers are installing “advice against bathing” signs at the beach this week.

However Bell Wharf is the exception as other beaches have won awards this week.

Scott Dolling, director of culture, tourism and property at Southend Council, said: “Clearly, it is very disappointing that the bathing waters at Leigh Bell Wharf have been reclassified, despite the improved water quality last year.

“However, we have a duty to ensure that the public is able to make informed choices about whether or not to swim in our coastal waters and that is exactly what we are doing.

“Over the past months, we have been working hard with the Environment Agency and Anglian Water, who own the sewage system, to identify possible sources of contamination and take action. However, until then, we advise the public not to bathe there.”

Anna Burns, area environment manager at the Environment Agency said: “Despite the deterioration in the overall classification, we were encouraged to see the improvement in last year’s bathing water results for Leigh.

“We are committed to continuing our work with Anglian Water and Southend Council to eliminate pollution sources and improve water quality again this season.

An Anglian Water spokesman said: “We have invested over £150,000 towards understanding the issues affecting Leigh Bell Wharf bathing waters.

“Together with Southend Council and the Environment Agency, we are using state-of-the-art technology including CCTV, dye tracing, sampling and on-foot surveys of the coastal area surrounding the bathing water to understand what is causing the issue.”

As well as the signs advice not to swim will be included on the council and Visit Southend websites.

Last summer sampling of the bathing water quality at Leigh Bell Wharf in 2018 had shown the water was “poor” but had improved slightly.

However across the four year period the quality has fallen below “sufficient”.