FURIOUS town centre shop owners say they will consider closing their shop for a day if plans for a Christmas lights switch-on event go ahead as they did last year.

Hedingham Models, in Market Street, say they took just £35 on the day of the festive event last year when they would usually expect to take about £700 on a Saturday leading up to Christmas.

The bosses say the stage, in Market Place, blocked the view to their street and that if it is put in the same position again this year then they will consider closing their shop for the day.

Niall Thorogood, of Hedingham Models, said: “They could put the stage in the disabled bays or the loading bays because the road is going to be closed anyway.

“Last year we took around £35 which, for a Saturday leading up to Christmas, is just catastrophic to be quite honest.

“We exchanged words with the council beforehand and on the day and were told it wouldn’t happen again, and yet now it looks like it’s going to be in the same place.

“We’re thinking about closing on the day because it will hardly be worth our while to open if we’re only going to take £35 again.”

The service road next to the Bull pub will be closed for the day on Saturday, November 17, to make way for the stage.

Mr Thorogood said: “We’re furious. Last year the stage was there before we opened at 9am but it wasn’t until 4pm that it was actually used.

“It completely blocks the view people would otherwise have of our area and it just ruined a whole day of trading for the sake of an hour or so.

“There are also stalls which are set up in New Street so it’s almost as if our whole area is just blocked off.

“These are the people who are meant to be helping us – we’re a business which has been here for 27 years.”

A spokesman for Braintree Council said: “The Christmas light switch-on is a great community event providing a range of activities including live entertainment and the biggest ever festive street market.

“Following feedback from last year, we have made an adjustment to the position of the stage which will not obstruct the entrance to Market Street from most of Market Place and will remain visible and accessible.

“We have also invested in new festive lighting for Market Place and New Street, as well as market traders under the arches to draw people to this part of the town centre.

“We expect this event, combined with the switch-on in George Yard and activities around the Boars Head to benefit the town, with more people spending time in Braintree than normal, and therefore increasing opportunities for businesses and services to trade.

“However, it is down to the individual shop and business owners to consider how best they can take advantage of the increased amount of people visiting the town centre.”