A Cirencester councillor has raised concerns after discovering a number of nitrous oxide canisters while out walking in the Cotswolds.

Ray Brassington, who represents the Four Acres area on Cotswold District Council, noticed the items among a pile of rubbish on a back road to Ewen.

"Looking more closely I discovered a couple of dozen nitrous oxide capsules," he said.

"Given the remote location I would imagine that a group of people had gathered there by car to inhale the gas."

Commonly known as 'laughing gas', nitrous oxide can cause a number of health problems.

"Nitrous oxide slows down the brain and ones body responses as well as causing dizziness and fatigue," added Cllr Brassington.

"If the vehicle driver had participated then there could have been a serious accident.

"In the case of overuse or misuse it can be dangerous and life threatening.

"People should avoid its use and consider the damage it can do to their health.

"Remember our health services are at stretching point and don't need extra work from self-inflicted problems."

More than half a million people aged 16-24 in England and Wales used the drug in 2019-20, according to the Crime Survey.

Office for National Statistics data shows there has been 36 deaths in Great Britain associated with nitrous oxide between 2001 and 2016.

The sale of nitrous oxide for its psychoactive effects is illegal but it is not currently a crime to possess the drug.

The Government is currently seeking advice on whether to make possession of laughing gas a crime and The Home Office has asked the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to review the harm it causes.

The ACMD last reviewed nitrous oxide six years ago, concluding it did not warrant control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Prolonged use of nitrous oxide can cause vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia and nerve damage.

The drug is typically used by being released into balloons from small silver cannisters and inhaled, giving temporary feelings of relaxation and euphoria.

It is also used medically as an anaesthetic, given for instance to women in labour.