TRADERS are counting the cost of the long-awaited Pitsea regeneration and claim the area is a ghost town since work began.

Huge hoardings went up around the former Railway pub, off High Road, in March before it was demolished. The site will eventually be redeveloped and a new Morrisons supermarket will be in its place by Christmas next year.

The revamp forms part of a £30million Pitsea regeneration, but struggling shopkeepers claim their trade has taken a big hit since the work began.

It comes as two stores shut in Pitsea town centre last week.

Three traders say takings have been slashed by nearly half since the demolition began, but they want customers to know they are still open as normal.

Paul Bunyan, manager of Jet Wheel Tyre centre, off High Road, which is directly opposite the construction site, claims there is nothing on the boards to advertise shops are still open for business.

He said: “I understand the work needs to be done, but Pitsea has become a ghost town.”

The firm’s managing director, Cliff Crane, added: “We get people thinking we are closed. I would say trade is down by about 50 per cent.

“Something needs to be done to help us and let people know we are still open.

“Times are hard for small businesses and this is just making it worse.”

The hoardings display signs telling customers the market is still open for business, but do not say nearby shops are open too.

The redevelopment, which has been 15 years in the making, will see a new market area at Northlands Pavement, as well as a new Aldi store.

London and Cambridge Properties is carrying out the major project.

The town’s swimming pool has been demolished, with a new supersized Morrisons supermarket due to open in its place in December 2014.

However, Gavin Callaghan, Labour councillor for Pitsea North West, has voiced concerns. He said: “I’m seriously worried Morrisons will pull out of the regeneration. Its profits took a massive hit last Christmas, and now the company is looking at smaller retail stores, so there are question marks.”

‘We’re still open’ say shopkeepers battling to trade during £30million building project