COUNCIL chiefs are planning an autumn spending spree after getting a £2million handout to improve the town centre.

Next week, a £15,000 package of work begins in St Martin’s Square, Basildon, with several large tree pots being replaced with new and improved resin-coated gravel bases.

Existing cycle racks will be replaced with newer ones and No Cycling signs will be put up.

A number of new bins will also replace the outdated ones throughout the town and St Martin’s Square, along with the installation of new cigarette bins.

The work will pave the way for bigger projects using the money, including improvements to the railway station and nearby subways, and the introduction of a major new lighting scheme for the town centre.

Jonathan Martin, area director of English Partnerships, which has provided the cash, said: “We have been committed to the regeneration of Basildon town centre for many years.

“We have shown this commitment with the interim works funding that will help to create positive change, prior to the major £1billion redevelopment of the whole town centre starting.”

Angela Smith, MP for Basildon and East Thurrock, said: “Our town centre is vitally important and I am delighted at more Government cash to make the area cleaner and safer.  “I look forward to seeing the work start as soon as possible.”

When the £2million of improvements were reveal-ed to the Echo last year, council chiefs said they planned to use some of the money to build a third town centre pavilion near the Costa Coffee and Toni & Guy buildings for use as an exhibition centre for the regeneration project.

There now seems to be doubt over its inclusion.

Adam Keating, spokesman for Basildon Renaissance Partnership, said: “It is possibly still on the table, but we need to look at this part of the project more in terms of cost.”