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A local market in an Essex town is thriving once again with hundreds of shoppers flocking back – thanks to its painstaking preparation for the easing of lockdown.

Like most businesses and shops across the country, Pitsea Market on the outskirts of Basildon was forced to close to customers in March, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The lockdown happened just a couple of weeks after  owner LCP, the national commercial property investment company, took over the running of the market after former markets operator Charfleets served notice to give up the operation, following more than 25 years in charge.

But thanks to the meticulous planning by Dean Tredinnick of UK Market Management Ltd, who is contracted to run the open-air market for LCP, the market was able to partially open to stall holders selling only essential items on May 18.

Since reopening, the market has increased the number of traders from 35 in March to more than 70  traders on Wednesdays and Saturdays in July. It has also opened on Mondays, to meet demand, and still operates its secondhand market on Fridays.

Julian Diamond, Director of Asset Management at LCP, said: “We had an extremely promising start, with the first week surpassing the previous year-on-year figures, but when Covid-19 struck, we had to shut down.

“During the first stage of the lockdown, we explored the different ways in which we could get parts of the market up and running again, safely and within the strict social distancing guidelines, to ensure the safety of both stallholders and shoppers.

“We increased the size of the walkways, introduced a one-way system, installed hand sanitiser stations at the entrance and exit and added more market officers. This enabled us to open cautiously with just a few stalls, having provided each trader with updated regulations and giving them guidance on how to be responsible for social distancing around their stalls.”

LCP also liaised regularly with the environmental health department at Basildon Borough Council of its plans so that it could monitor progress.

Since the market reopened in May, it has seen the number of shoppers soar, welcomed more stallholders and continues to receive enquiries from new potential traders, keen to join the thriving community.

“Since lockdown restrictions eased, we’ve promoted Super Saturday and Bounceback Monday, and have continued to expand the market every week,” said Julian. “We’ve had consistently high footfall and trading figures since which culminated in our best single day trading figures in early July, since the market moved to its present location in 2015.

“This has been achieved through the determination and hard work by Dean and his team. The groundwork is already paying off and it is great to see the local community supporting the town centre and its facilities.”

Anyone interested in taking a stall at Pitsea Market should contact Dean Tredinnick on 07790 134606.