Three empty restaurants in Basildon town centre have cost the council £120,000 in lost revenue, the councillor responsible for economic stimulus has admitted.

Half of the six restautants in East Walk, beneath the Empire Cinema in the centre of Basildon, remain vacant. The others are occupied by Orleto Lounge, Nandos and Kaspa’s.

An agency appointed by the council has been tasked with filling the empty spaces.

Craig Rimmer said: “There had been quite a lot of interest but that cooled off when Empire went out of business.”

It is hoped that interest will be renewed once a new operator takes on the £25 million cinema complex.

However, while Mr Rimmer says the council is in “a good place” with the new cinema operator, he admitted a deal will not be done before Christmas as previously hoped.

He said: “It has to go up for the board. Heads of terms need to be agreed by the new operator and Basildon Council and signed off by the board. But once the paper goes before the board, it’s almost a done deal.

“If it’s finalised as I expect it to be, I would hope they turn it around in a good timeframe.”

An agency appointed by the council has been tasked with filling the empty spaces.

Orleto Lounge, Nandos and Kaspa’s desserts have all opened at the cinema complex. 

Mr Rimmer added: “The new operator will publish their own timetable. I understand we’ll see it opening in the new year.”

When pushed further for a specific opening date, Mr Rimmer declined to comment, saying he did not want to “steal their thunder”.

He added: “The council has the same concerns as residents - we want it to be open as early as possible.”

In April, it was announced Taco Bell would move from the Eastgate Shopping Centre’s food hall to join other restaurants. However, eight months later, the fast-food chain has still not relocated.

Mr Rimmer believes Taco Bell decided to stay put at Eastgate as they have “a good deal for them there”.