FURIOUS shop owners are demanding answers after their businesses were excluded from a leaflet advertising Christmas events and places to visit in Braintree.

Braintree Council printed and distributed more than 20,000 copies of the eight-page guide ahead of the popular Christmas light switch-on in the town centre next Saturday.

The leaflet includes a list of events taking place on Saturday, November 16 and on future weekends, such as Christmas street markets and live entertainment.

There are also a number of adverts in the booklet for the likes of Braintree Village and Benson’s School of Motoring.

But there is no mention of any shops based in Braintree town centre and the snub is said to have caused “uproar” among independent retailers.

Jayne Miller, who has been running Fever Accessories in George Yard for more than a decade, said she was shocked when she found out.

She said: “Everyone is up in arms about this.

“No-one has been asked if they want to be in here and participate. I totally get it may be first come first served but you have to give everyone a chance.

“The leaflet is supposed to be advertising Braintree town centre so why is Braintree Village in there?

“A Christmas guide for Braintree is a great idea but anyone who got given this or picked it up would just put it in the bin.”

She added: “Unless I say something now nothing is going to change and the same will happen next year.

“I was so upset and angry when I first saw the leaflet. It’s upsetting the council didn’t even think to ask us.

“We would all have loved to have been included in this and I think it’s terrible what they’ve done.

“I feel like they don’t help us anyway and this is just the icing on the cake.”

A Braintree Council spokesman said opportunities to advertise in the leaflet were limited.

They said: “The Christmas guide exists because we want people to know about the fantastic Christmas we have lined up for Braintree, including light switch-ons, street markets and other activities.

“Opportunities to advertise within the guide were limited and we offered this on a first come, first served basis via the Braintree Town Partnership, an independent not for profit organisation chaired by private business owners and residents.

“We’d encourage anybody who is passionate about the town and wants to shape its future to get in touch with them.

“There are many great businesses in the town and bringing in visitors and boosting trade opportunities for them is important to us. We believe they are all equally important to the vitality of the town centre, including working towards a two-way relationship with Braintree Village.

“We hope organising a light switch-on event, and others like the street markets, will increase spending time in the town as well as opportunities for businesses to encourage trade that supports the local economy.”