BILLERICAY High Street is “just about surviving” after several businesses have left the town, according to traders.

Sports Heritage, next to Argos, and a greengrocers, in TheWalk, are the latest businesses to shut their doors for good.

Italian restaurant Strada has also been closed for the past two weeks, although it is expected to be replaced by another chain.

Businessman Trevor Draper was forced to shut gift and homeware store the Emporium, although he still owns the Cook Shop.

He said: “People are not using the town and they are not shopping here.

“Footfall is down but rents have not been reduced to reflect that. Customers are demanding, but we need to be making a profit to be able to buy new stock.

“We have a loyal customer base in the town, but they do not have as much money as they used to. As a town we are just about surviving.

“When we were in the middle of the recession a few years ago shops would rarely stay empty for a few weeks, let alone a few months. It’s much more of a concern now.”

Mr Draper has been campaigning for improved parking in the town for the past ten years.

He believes more car parks would encourage people to visit Billericay High Street.

Charges at car parks in the town have already been scrapped on weekends and bank holidays.

Mr Draper, added: “We are full of independant shops and businesss and we need to sort out the parking issues.

“It’s insulting for the residents of our town. The council is not concerned about taking revenue from shoppers and traders, but they are not given them back anything we need as a town.”

Phil Turner, leader of Basildon Council, said money has already been ploughed into new paving and CCTV cameras in a bid to boost Billericay.

He added: “I’m a great sympathiser with traders. We have got to find things we can do in the High Street to keep it alive, not just for the traders but also for our residents.

“If we don’t do something, people will shop further afield, there is plenty of competition around.

“Billericay is an example of why we can’t take anything for granted.”