A SALVAGE yard owned by a council leader has been raided by police officers who were investigating a stolen car, it is understood.

Passers-by spotted “three or four police cars” at the scene, claiming officers were searching the land which is let out by Castle Point Council leader Norman Smith, and based off Northwick Road, Canvey.

Mr Smith, who was away at the time, had no idea of what had taken place, until it was confirmed by his site manager.

He explained: “After checking with the site manager, it appears someone has driven a stolen car into the car park on my land and dumped it there.

“Of course I was surprised when I found out and it’s really hard where I’m away, but I’m told police were searching around the site and car park and that they are investigating.

“It’s a sad situation that people feel the need to steal others’ vehicles, and incidents like this have sadly become part of today’s society.” This isn’t the first time that the Northwick Road site has had issues. In December 2018, police officers raided the salvage yard to search for stolen cars and earlier in the same year, a giant fire and explosions on the land caused total devastation to businesses and killed a dog.

During the fire, dozens of buildings and stores, including Morrisons and McDonald’s, had to be evacuated.

The Castle Point Council leader believes this incident is not in connection with previous issues.

He said: “The yard has been cleared from where there was a problem before, so there is barely anyone there now.

“Tenants were given to a notice to vacate the land so it was clear in time for Lidl to take over, so I don’t believe there is any link to the previous issues.

“I wouldn’t like to guess, but it may be that it was stolen just to get from A to B.

“With open car parks, you will always get issues like this. It could’ve been anybody’s car park.

“I’m not responsible for those people driving stolen cars onto my land and it’s such a shame this is happening, but I hope the stolen vehicle will be returned to the rightful owner undamaged. When I return I will be looking further into it.”

Essex Police was contacted for comment on the alleged theft of the car and the search.