AN emergency meeting is set to be held in Pitsea in a bid to find a solution to traders’ rising crime fears.

It comes amid contested claims the town’s Aldi, in Northlands Pavement, has begun closing early as a result of a high number of thefts.

Despite the claims, from shoppers and councillors, the chain maintains there has been no change to the opening times.

Andrew Ansell, Labour councillor for Pitsea South East, said: “I will be chairing an emergency meeting with traders, the police, councillors and other community safety figures to respond to crime and anti-social behaviour issues in Pitsea town centre.

“The meeting is likely to be held in early September following the summer school holidays and a date will be announced once all partners are confirmed.

“It’s a sad indictment of the impact of police cuts on Pitsea that a big retailer in our town centre has been forced to close its doors early due to rising crime.”

Liz Potter, 50, of Popes Crescent, Pitsea said: “I tried to get into the store and I think it was about 7pm on a week day and it was closed, it should close about 8pm.

“I couldn’t see any sort of sign or anything.

“The incidents are ranging from petty theft to more violent incidents with yobs threatening staff.”

Barry Wright, 60, of Burns Avenue, in Pitsea added: “I think it’s disgusting that it’s happening.

“We must take a strong stand against this sort of thing in our community.

“I am pleased to hear councillors are doing what they can.

“I feel for the shop workers, I’ve been told of a few incidents in the last month.”

Lucy Prett, 40, from Basildon who runs a clothing stall at Pitsea Market on weekends said: “This is dreadful, I know of issues in the area with gangs and yobs.

“I’ve seen them hanging around and causing a nuisance.”

An Aldi spokesman said: “Our Pitsea store closes at 8pm in line with other retailers at the Pitsea Centre.”