MARKET traders say they are struggling to survive because shoppers think they are no longer open for business.
Work is under way to create a new market inWickfordHigh Street. Three kiosks have already gone up.
Just 400 yards away, in Market Road, the indoor market is still open, but shoppers are just not walking through the doors.
The problem has been blamed on the area outside being used as a storage site full of containers, and no one knowing when the traders will move to their new base.
Fishmonger Dennis Jones, who had a stall in Wickford for 42 years, was expected to retire in September, but shut up shop a month early.
Alan Ball, Ukip councillor for Wickford Castledon, said the work was scheduled to finish this month, but he had struggled to get answers from Basildon Council.
He said: “It’s difficult for us to get anything out of the council because we were elected when everything had already been agreed.
“We have never hidden the fact we would have done things differently.
“The traders seem to be in the dark as much as we are.
“There are only three kiosks, so some of them don’t have anywhere to go.
“I’m disgusted. We are talking about people’s businesses.
“The timeline for the work keeps changing and it’s just not good enough.’’ Trevor Day, who runs the market, was positive about the future and said business was bound to improve.
He said: “Unfortunately, it has been very quiet because people don’t think we’re still open.
“But what we are going to get when all this is finished will be much better.
“It is worth having a difficult summer for what we will get out of it. We’ve just go to be patient.
“A lot of money is being spent on this regeneration and it’s good for the town.
“The High Street has been heaving the last few weeks, which proves that is where we should be.’’
New site ‘set to open next month’
THE long-awaited newmarket is set to open next month, according to Basildon Council bosses.
The Tory administration admits there has been a “slight’’ delay, although work was originally expected to begin in April.
The £700,000 revamp of Wickford High Street will see the pedestrian area repaved to cater for traders, and the walkway leading to the existing market given a makeover and renamed Market Lane, with space for ten stalls.
Extra cash has also been set aside for shopfronts to be spruced up.
A total of £3.2million is expected to be ploughed into the town, with a two-storey health centre set to be built on the current market site, with the existing London Road GP Surgery transferring its services there. The Tory administration is also revamping Wickford swimming pool, in Market Road, including a new reception area, changing rooms and viewing facilities.
It also wants to create a fitness and dance studio.
A council spokesman said: “The installation of the newmarket is on schedule to be completed by early September.
“There have been slight delays because of issues with underground services.’’