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Mixed reaction to £3.1million Wickford plans
6:00am Wednesday 9th October 2013 in News
TRADERS and campaigners have given a cautious welcome to a £3.1million package of improvements to regenerate Wickford town centre.
Tonight, Basildon Council is set to rubber stamp a major plan to bring the town’s swimming pool, in Market Road, up to scratch, spruce up the High Street and relocate Wickford Market.
The work will include a £2.4million revamp of the Seventies-built pool. A new gym will also be added to the facility and it is hoped the overhaul will be finished by June 2014.
However, traders who recently took control of the town’s ailing market have concerns about the High Street proposals.
Plans to move the market have been rumbling on for years, with some traders claiming it will put them out of business because some units are permanent structures at the current site, off Market Road.
Carol Bassett, who took over its running in September, said: “The traders are split on this idea, because some of them literally can’t move their units.
“Why can’t we run a big market over both sites? That means the council will have the best of both worlds. We’re struggling to rent pitches here anyway, so I think the council is getting a bit ahead of itself in wantingaHigh Street market.
“There are things that can be done in this area of Wickford, before looking to move the market on.”
The High Street improvements will include moving the market, putting in benches, flowers, and improving shop fronts and paving.
The authority will borrow £2.7million to finance the plans, and take the rest out of its budget, with the majority of the cash to come from the future sale of land at Radwinter Avenue to housing developers.
That move has been criticised in the past, but if the council do not sell the land by 2016, it will cost the authority £171,000 in interest payments.
Malcolm Buckley, Basildon councillor responsible for regeneration, said moving the market into the High Street was “inevitable
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