PITSEA traders believe a radio network between town centre businesses could help combat growing anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Andy Ansell called the emergency meeting following claims things had got so bad the town’s Aldi had begun closing early as a result of increased thefts.

During the meet shop owners told how they had been targeted by thugs while working - and had been victims of theft.

They agreed working more closely together, by setting up a radio system, may help.

Sally Andrews, 44, who works at a convenience store in the town, said: “Things have got so bad that we are feeling very vulnerable to attacks or even worse.

“I heard a man went into a nearby charity shop with a knife and threatened a worker called Kevin and demanded he handed over cash a few weeks ago.

“I don’t think the shop owner was hurt, but he was left pretty scared.

“I also know about the thefts at Aldi where gangs had been going in and terrorising staff and customers.

“I feel a bit worried now about coming into work due to the stories.

“I believe a radio system is an absolute must if we are to crackdown on these yobs causing havoc.

“These issues have been ongoing for years now and we need action.

“I think it’s about time something should be done.

“I think radio systems have been used in other towns and have been a success.”

She said she believes it’s all about communication and if traders had a system in place they could warn each other of incidents and people who are causing problems.

She added: “As traders, we are just working hard to earn a living and don’t deserve or need any problems.”

David Kerbey, 60, a market trader at Pitsea Market, was keen too. He said: “As market stall holders we are especially at risk and we want to be involved.

“If we had a radio system we could keep records of incident and information then pass that onto the police and then there’s a chance of officers catching these people.

“I know we’ve been speaking about this for some time and thefts and antisocial behaviour has affected our businesses.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if some shops close early as Aldi did.”

Andy Ansell, Labour councillor for Pitsea South East, who organised the meeting at The Place in Pitsea earlier this week, said it was a success.

Mr Ansell said: “It was really positive.

“It’s all in the early stages but we are planning another meeting in November when we’ve hopefully heard back from the council officers about the plans.

“I am pleased to see the meeting went so well, it was fantastic to see different members of the community come together to work on the issue.”