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Staff and customers fear darkened Laindon Centre
4:20pm Thursday 19th December 2013 in Echo News
CUSTOMERS and staff working at the rundown Laindon Centre are scared to be out in the centre after dark, traders say.
Businesses in the centre have twice been targeted by armed robbers since security lights at the centre stopped working.
BDO, which has been running the centre since its owner went into administration, has promised to fix the lights, which have now been out for more than a year.
Tae Thompson, manager of Fish’n’Chick’n, said his customers were frightened to use the takeaway in the evenings.
He said: “We just don’t get customers at night, but luckily, we are very busy during the day.
“You can't blame them for staying away if they can’t even see their feet or hands.
“It’s not the nicest of areas anyway, but people are even more scared now.
“You normally get kids hanging around shops or problems with graffiti, but we don’t have any of that – even they don’t want to be here at night.”
Pat Rackley, local Independent Labour councillor, regularly visits the shopping centre, off Laindon High Road and is worried about young people who deliver papers for newsagent Martins early in the morning.
A robber tried to steal cash from the shop at about 6.30am last Friday. It was the second such incident at the shop in a matter of days.
On Friday, November 22,aman stormed into Martins and threatened a shop worker with a knife, then stolen cigarettes and as much as £1,000 .
Mrs Rackley said: “It’s very worrying. There are people at the centre early in the morning and we need to think about the safety of the staff, especially the youngsters.
They have to make their way from the dark car park to get to work. It’s dangerous, especially after what has happened lately.
This isn’t about politics. It’s about doing the best for the people of Laindon.”
BDO took over the running of the centre in May when owner Laindon Regeneration, which bought the site for £11.5million in 2007, ran into financial problems.
Basildon Council is in talks with property company Bride Hall, which wants to redevelop the site.
However, until plans are finalised, the administrator remains responsible for maintaining the centre.
The Echo understand BDO has told Basildon Council officials it is working to improve lighting around the centre’s shops, butclaims it is not responsible for the car park.
Essex County Council has also said it is not responsible for lights in the car park.
The Echo asked BDO to comment, but a spokesman declined.
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