A TASK force has been set to to encourage more people to shop in Rayleigh.

The new Town Team is planning events to help support local businesses and help the town to flourish.

Trade in Rayleigh has been picking up ever since the market was moved into the High Street from the car park, in Hockley Road.

Traders are reporting increased business and the market is thriving, with the town council about to start a series of one-off speciality markets throughout the year.

The next will be Continental Market on April 27.

The Town Team has been set up on a trial basis in Rayleigh at the suggestion of Rochford Council.

The town council, traders, the Rayleigh Christian Ministries and the Rayleigh, Rochford and District Association for Volunteer Services are all signed up to to the initiative.

Town council chairman Ian Ward is leading the team.

Speaking from the first event, the Great Rayleigh Easter Egg Hunt, he said: “We are looking to pilot various things within the district.

“We hope the team will work as the council supporting businesses and the community at large.

“The early signs are positive.

The launch of the egg hunt went very well. We’ve had lots of interest in the hunt and local schoolkids have been very keen to spread the word.”

Mr Ward and his team sent questionnaires to businesses in the town, asking what was needed to ensure businesses continued to thrive.

The team is now considering their replies and looking for ways to put their suggestions into practice.

Mr Ward added: “I’m passionate about trying to drive the town forward and ensure we have a lot of customers.

“We put a lot of effort into this first event and we hope for it to become an annual event as we need that continuity.

“We will be doing more research to see what we can help people with what they want.

“We have been trying to find all those diverse groups in the community so we can make contact with them and ask what we can do.

“For example, we have been speaking to the Rotary Club about a festival it is planning on Rayleigh Mount. We have been discussing howwe can help it.”