TRADERS could be forced to shut up shop because there will be no room for them in the revamped Wickford Market.
Two long-term stall owners are retiring and others do not know what will happen to them when the market moves from its current home, off Market Road, to a new site 400 yards away in the High Street.
At the moment, there are nine stalls inside the market, but the new set-up will only have room for three, smaller indoor stalls built into a new kiosk.
Outside, there will be a “market lane”, running beside the 99p store, holding ten stalls and businesses will be able to pitch up along the High Street.
David Harrison, newly elected Ukip councillor for Wickford Park, said: “I think a bit more thought could have gone into the newWickford Market.
“We have nine traders inside, and some of those are going to have to pack up because there is nothing there for them. Others are going to have to move to a much smaller unit.
“I’ve spoken to some of the traders and they don’t know yet how much rents will be. At the moment, they’re concerned about whether they will be able to afford it.”
Spaces at the indoor kiosk are thought to have been snapped up by Graffiti Barbers, the cafe and the gift and balloon shop.
Trevor Day, who runs the market, said tattooist Harry Potter, who has been in Wickford for 26 years, and fishmonger Dennis Jones, a well-known face for 42 years, are using the regeneration as “the push they need to retire”.
Mr Day said: “We have already made alternative arrangements for the traders who won’t fit into the kiosk. The council is doing everything.
“The regeneration has got to be a big boost for Wickford.”
Basildon Council has just awarded Bristol-based Prestige Kiosks a £62,700 contract to build the three-trader kiosk.
Work was expected to start in April, but no activity has been seen.
Despite the delay, Tory councillor Phil Turner, who is expected to be voted leader of Basildon Council on Thursday, said he was committed to the £700,000 revamp of Wickford High Street.
He said: “Wickford will still be a priority for our administration.
“While we are in a period of transition, I will make sure officers are talking to traders, who are the lifeblood of our High Street, to make sure as far as possible we can accommodate everyone’s needs.
“I would appeal to the opposition parties to join with me and give Wickford what it needs to become a first-class town.”
Wickford market moved to its current site nearly 40 years ago and used to be a hive of activity.
With the rise of the internet and the influx of discount High Street stores it has declined to its present handful of stalls.