Traders and councillors have taken aim at a business report into a shopping parade that has "become a ghost town".

Following on from the Epping Forest District Council backed study into The Broadway parade in Debden - in which consultant Lichfields discovered no "significant change" in business following the open of the Epping Forest retail park - those who work in and represent the street have raised some concerns.

Cllr Michael Owen, Loughton Residents Association member for The Broadway, said: "I feel the impact assessment doesn’t reflect the true picture of what we are hearing on the ground.

"All of the businesses we speak to are painting a bleak picture, yet the impact report suggest it has had a minimal impact.

"The council collects the turnover data of the traders for rent reviews, so I am disappointed they didn’t update this and use this at it is the truest picture we could get."

He also said it was a "shame" traders and councillors were not involved in the production of the study.

Fellow LRA Councillor Christ Pond noted the report's conclusion seemed to tone down the study's findings, in which a six to seven per cent reduction in trade was recorded.

He added: "Seven per cent is a lot for a small business on low margins.

"The survey does not seem to have dealt with footfall at all. If you go to Broadway, you'll see how apart from college lunchtimes, there are so few people about."

One person who has felt this absence of custom keenly is Tom Barwick, the owner of World of Pets, who said he has lost his life savings and is currently seeking emergency accommodation for him and his daughter following a slump in trade.

On the topic of the report the 50-year-old said: “Everyone thinks it’s a joke.

“The Saturday before Christmas, only one person was seen shopping along The Broadway.

“We done our own impact study over a year ago where all the shops were taking down how much they were taking in and nearly everyone was down between 30-50 per cent.”

Several family-run businesses have shut down in the past year, including Hardware store Pirates Den, Eye Gee Opticians and Ice Events due to poor trade.

“It is really bad,” explained Mr Barwick. “I have been asking to see the original report from Cllr Derek McNab and from the Freedom of Information Act but still yet to receive a reply. I have emailed them around four or five times.”

The single father said a meeting was held last May in 2018 to address the decreasing footfall at The Broadway tradesmen but no action has been taken.

“Parking and advertising is the major issue around here," he added. "The traffic is so bad since the traffic lights were installed people are avoiding the area because of it.

“There is also a free bus service bypasses through The Broadway why can’t it stop along here?"