TIGHT budget constraints have failed to stop Basildon Council splashing out in some areas.

A new market in Wickford, an arts festival and improvements to council facilities around the borough are all on the list of projects in which the council is investing a total of £300,000 this year.

Hannakins Farm Community Centre, Billericay, Pitsea Leisure Centre and Victoria Park, Laindon will all have money spent on improvements Hannakins Farm will have £45,000 spent on improvements, including a new roof and a new boiler. West Billericay Community Association, which leases the building, has been pressing for the roof to be fixed for some time..

Phil Turner, councillor responsible for resources, said: “Hannakins Farm is a vital community centre.

“When the lease with WBCA came up for renewal, we knew whatever the outcome of the negotiations, Hannakins Farm was going to need some attention, which is why it was so important to make provisions as part of the new budget.”

The council also plans to spend £5,000 promoting shopping in Wickford, including the launch of a new street market, which councillors hope will become a weekly event.

Deputy council leader Stephen Horgan said: “A street market will breathe new life into the shopping area in Wickford and will be boosted by targeted promotion, which will attract shoppers and also new traders and businesses.”

Pitsea Leisure Centre is to get a £50,000 revamp, the details of which have yet to be announced.

Last year the council spent £100,000 redecorating the centre, putting in new toilets and adding a conference room.

It also spent £180,000 creating new allotments and a sports area in Victoria Park, Laindon.

This year, it plans to spend a further £25,000, with local residents being asked how they’d like to see the money spent.

The council is also setting aside £5,000 to insure and maintain art in the borough and to organise Basildon’s first arts festival.

The festival will be run by a private company and held in St Martin’s Square, showcasing local art groups.

Councillors have also allowed £100,000 a year to cover income lost from offering free parking in council car parks through the year.