MARKET traders say they are pitching up for a fight if plans to dramatically slash the size of Pitsea market are not changed.

Worried stallholders say proposals to shift the market and cut the number of pitches from 150 to 70 to make way for the £30million regeneration of Pitsea would kill trade and leave their livelihood in tatters.

They were left fuming at a meeting last week when developer London and Cambridge Properties revealed more detailed plans for the future of the market, which would see pitch sizes shrink from 10ft by 10ft to just 8ft by 4ft.

Traders have now united to launch a petition calling for changes to be made to the plans and got the backing of more than 1,500 market shoppers in one day.

Gary Behan, 41, of Longmead, Pitsea, has had his watch and battery stall at the market for 15 years.

He said “The pitches are just too small. There’s not way the majority of traders could carry on. It’s madness.

“The developers don’t care about the market. They seem to tolerate it, but it’s not their main concern.

“They want to turn it into a Covent Garden style street market, but that won’t work here in Pitsea.”

Thomas Tuohy, 48, who has run his fruit and veg stall for six years, added: “Nobody is happy about these plans and we will fight them. If we are forced to halve our stock because of the lack of room then nobody will stay here.”

Developers say they have now tinkered with the plans to provide slightly larger pitches and will reveal them to traders during another crunch meeting, to be held at Pembrooke House in Pitsea, next Wednesday.

Mr Behan added: “Unless they are a lot bigger then we are still going to have a problem. They need to go back to the drawing board and ask us what we think will be the best thing for the market.”

Frank Nash, a director of Charfleets, which runs the market, said: “I totally understand why the traders are concerned. The pitches under the outline plans are too small.

“What we need is a fully demountable market to ensure no space is wasted when the market isn’t on.”