COUNCIL chiefs believe Southend’s public simply do not want York Road market.

Tory leaders feel they have done all they can to try to stimulate trade for the failing market.

Their firm stance came as rival politicians demanded the council consider moving the market to the High Street to try to drum up trade.

But John Lamb, the Conservative deputy leader, said: “We are not and never have been against markets.

“But the simple fact is that markets around the country are failing to some degree. It is not just in Southend.

“We are happy to support the market, but at the moment it seems people do not want it.”

The original indoor market in York Road was closed in October 2009 and later demolished after a health and safety report revealed a series of concerns about the building’s structural strength.

Following pleas from traders and shoppers, the council agreed to re-open the market on the same site on Fridays and Saturdays.

But it issued a “use it or lose it” ultimatum to shoppers and cut the running hours to Fridays only in September after the number of traders plummeted.

Its poor performance has prompted opposition council groups, led by Independent councillor Martin Terry, to campaign for a London-style market in Victoria Circus at the northern end of the High Street.

Mike Assenheim, an Independent councillor for Shoebury, said: “York Road market has failed, that is clear.

“What we need is a clear explanation as to why there is so much opposition to a town centre market.”

But Mr Lamb said town centre stalls could damage other businesses.

He said: “We need to protect our High Street. Our High Street is one of the best performing in the country, and we must support that.”