THE long-term future of a popular market is set to be secured as Basildon Council prepares to offer traders a new six-year licence.

Wickford Market is a “huge part of the town’s history” but was forced to move from the High Street last August after bus companies objected to Basildon Council closing the road every Saturday.

The market was temporarily moved to land off Woodlands Road but its future remained in doubt with no permanent site secured for years to come.

However, Basildon Council is now set to grant Wickford Town Council a year-long licence to operate on the site, with the potential to extend that for further five years.

Don Morris, Conservative councillor responsible for the Wickford Castledon ward, said: “It is good news as it will have a permanent place to run.

“It is good that the town council will help drive money into it and I wish them luck.

“Personally, we still want it in the High Street, as that is where it will bring more people in. And it is frustrating as the buses don’t actually stop in the high street, so my view is why are they coming through at all.

“I don’t get why they can’t make a change; it will only make a difference of minutes to their schedule.”

The council is set to debate the plan at tomorrow night’s cabinet meeting.

Basildon Council, which owns the freehold on the land, is set to agree to grant the market use of the site which currently stands empty.

The report states that Basildon Council would grant the licence for a fee of £1 on the condition that all profit is reinvested to improve the market.

The market features around 20 traders with a variety of stalls.

Leader of Basildon Council, Andrew Baggott said: “The market is a huge part of Wickford’s history and is visited by many residents each week. We are committed to ensuring the market is operating effectively and the proposals to provide a licence to Wickford Town Council will allow for a community-led approach and increased footfall to the market. I look forward to reviewing the proposals at cabinet next week.”

Wickford Market currently operates Saturdays from 8am to 4pm.