WARNINGS to not swim at a beach beauty spot will remain throughout the prime summer period, it has been confirmed.

Water at Bell Wharf in Leigh will remain classified as “poor” until the end of the summer season after it was downgraded from "sufficient" earlier this month.

Test results revealed the presence of E-coli and intestinal enterocci, most commonly found in faeces.

However, Southend Council has stated new water tests since the advisory signs were put up in mid-May were showing signs of continued improvement.

However, the Environment Agency have stated the rating will not change before the end of the summer.

Alex Bright, cabinet member for the environment at Southend Council, said: "Residents and visitors have understandably been concerned to see signs advising against bathing erected at Leigh beach.

"It is important to remember that these are placed based on historic water testing. Testing is now being carried out each month and, now that we are in the bathing season, it is very encouraging to see the results for May continue the trend of improvement, with only very low levels of bacteria detected.

"We continue to work with the Environment Agency and Anglian Water to investigate and put right any mis-connected pipes from homes and businesses that may be sending waste to the wrong sewer. We’re also continuing to seek out any other reasons why pockets of contamination have happened in the past and prevent them in the future. It appears that this work is paying dividends.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “The sample results from the previous four years are used to make the overall classification, which is used to inform the signage, and is a requirement of the Bathing water Directive.

"Some of the results over the last four years have highlighted bacterial contamination. Sampling started in May and so far we have detected very low levels of bacteria, which is good news.

"The results at Leigh Bell Wharf appear to be improving, but monitoring will continue over the summer, including any work to identify and stop any sources of contamination.

"The results from this summer’s sampling will be used to update the classification, which will be announced at the end of the season."