BRENTWOOD traders have criticised Lakeside Shopping Centre after it sent men with A-boards around the town centre.

Independent shop owners reacted furiously when Thurrock-based Lakeside sent a team to walk the High Street promoting the shopping centre for Christmas.

The adverts were promoting a Christmas competition being run on the centre’s Facebook page and the longer opening hours there.

Nigel Clarke, councillor for Brentwood West and owner of the Hair Company, in Crown Street, said he thought the advertising ploy by the centre was “disgusting” and should be prevented in the future.

He added: “There were a number of shopkeepers who were getting quite irate about the Lakeside guys being in the High Street.

“It just feels like Lakeside is rubbing it in independent traders faces saying “we’re doing well and you’re not”.

“Brentwood is all about independent traders and has a lot of good independent shops and the best way to help them is to promote them and not allow companies like those at Lakeside to advertise here at all.”

Lin Heath, owner of French Quarter, in Crown Street, said she thought the move was “completely unnecessary”.

She added: “It’s hard enough as it is without having a big company like that coming down here trying to get people from Brentwood to shop there.

“All of us need as much help as we can and we always try to promote supporting local shops, because they will benefit Brentwood residents.”

Lakeside said it did not need permission to carry out the activity.

Paul Lancaster, the centre’s general manager, said: “We contacted the licensing department at Brentwood council in advance to obtain permission and a permit and were told this wasn’t required as it was only for one day and designed to encourage people to visit our Facebook page.

“We know from our research that people who live in Brentwood go shopping at Lakeside as well as at their local town centre so we do advertise here regularly as it’s an important part of our catchment area.”