ANGRY traders are threatening to stop paying thousands of pounds in service charges after being flooded with sewage and dirty water for a month.
Owners of Pints’n’Litres and Laindon Cleaners in the dilapidated Laindon Centre are kicking up a stink over overflowing drains, which have left some traders without a toilet since December.
They have been told pipes running under their shops have completely crumbled and need replacing.
Talks about demolishing and replacing the 1960s centre have been ongoing for 18 years.
Roy Hudson, owner of Pints’n’ Litres, uses two cans of air freshener every day to try to mask the stench.
He said: “It’s sickening. This should have been done well before Christmas.
It will cost them a fortune to sort it out.
“All the shops along here should stop paying their service charges. It works out at £3,000 or £4,000 a year, but we don’t get anything for it.”
Shax Ahmed, owner of launderette Laindon Cleaners, has spent hundreds of pounds rewashing clothes and refunding customers after dirty water found its way into his washing machines. He said: “It’s difficult to run my business. We have called the landlords so many times, but no one has done anything.
“When it rains the drains fill up quickly, so it gets even worse. It is about an inch or two deep.
“Last year I refused to pay my service charges because my roof was leaking.
Now when I get my bill this time I will be speaking to them again to sort this out.”
Administrators BDO have been running the shopping centre off High Road, Laindon, since May last year.
A spokesman said: “Recent extreme weather, including heavy rain, gale-force winds and flooding have caused issues with drainage over the past few weeks. Maintenance checks have been doubled in the wake of the storms and action has been taken quickly to deal with any issues.
“No prior reports of sewage problems have been received, but we are investigating and taking appropriate action.”