SHOPS were forced to close after an overnight downpour caused flooding in Basildon.

The bus station entrance to the Eastgate Shoppping Centre, off Southernhay, was closed Saturday after flooding left GNC, Supercuts and Mr Simms’ Olde Sweet Shoppe unable to trade.

Water was reported to be dripping from the ceiling on the ground floor of the centre followingthe downpour and further rain is predicted today as the remnants of Hurricane Bertha reach Britain.

One shop worker from a nearby, though unaffected store, said on Saturday afternoon: “It’s still dripping now and it’s due to rain tonight and tomorrow.

“The water’s coming from the ceiling – we’re on the lower floor and it’s coming from upstairs.”

The entrance also backs onto a taxi rank and has affected trade there – with one cabbie reporting his takings had been cut in half.

“It’s absolutely annihilated us for trade,” said Ralph Morgan, 71.

“I’ve only done about 54 miles all day long when I would normally be looking at 100 at least.

“All the trade that walks through Eastgate can’t walk out that way anymore and, if they’ve forecast rain tomorrow, what’s it going to be like on Monday?”

Eastgate duty manager Mike Horton assured customers the area was open as usual today.

He said: "Heavy overnight rain built up in one small area of the centre near the bus station and seeped through onto the Lower Mall early on Saturday morning causing some damage to the ceiling. 

"We therefore took the precaution of temporarily closing off the bus station doors until a proper assessment of the damage could be made and emergency repairs undertaken. 

“However, Eastgate was still open for shopping via all other entrances and we opened the bus station doors as normal on Sunday morning. 

“We obviously regret any inconvenience to our customers on Saturday, and thank them for their forbearance and understanding.”