WE have no control over what shops come to our towns.

That’s the message from Tendring Council’s leader following an online debate over what £20million bids to regenerate Clacton and Harwich should include.

After the Gazette posed the question as to what readers would like such a sum to be spent on, there was an outcry for popular shops such as Primark to come to Clacton – while others called for fewer charity shops and pound stores.

Readers in Harwich called for the town's Park Pavilion to be renovated – while many said attracting doctors and dentists was the town's priority.

The council’s cabinet agreed on Friday to submit bids to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund for the towns.

Its proposal for Clacton includes projects to redevelop Carnarvon House and the neighbouring library to provide new homes, start-up business units, a new library and Adult Community Learning Centre.

The bid for Dovercourt includes proposals to redevelop the Milton Road car park, refurbishment of Harwich Library, and improvements from Dovercourt station to Kingsway.

The cabinet also agreed to allocate £2.3million towards match-funding for the bids.

Neil Stock, council leader, said: “If successful these projects will enable us to replace eyesore sites with developments that help to tackle housing need, support up-and-coming businesses, provide community facilities as well as improving the street scene.

“Having seen some of the debate about the bids on social media, I would remind people the council has no control over what shops or restaurants are brought into towns.

“However, by improving infrastructure and by making positive investment as these bids will, if successful, we can create an environment which then encourages further private investment.”

Taking to social media, Gazette reader Aileen Phillips said: “What we don't need is a firm from out of town, charging lots of money to advise us how the town should be.

“We can't have £20million being whittled down by that sort of cost.”

Dotty Doris added: “It would be lovely to put something where the fountains were to stop all the day-drinking.

“And no more charity shops, we have enough - maybe a Matalan or a Primark where Sainsbury’s was in High Street.”

Standard reader Jo Jo Johannesburgh said: “They should renovate or rebuild the Park Pavilion area into a real community hub for clubs, activities education and wellbeing.

“It has served the community so well over the years. To modernise it with proper services and spaces for all would be amazing.”

Angie Papa added: “We need big name and quirky shops – they would attract people from the cruise ships and ferries to explore our lovely historical town and plough money back into Harwich.”

Graham Webb, chairman of the Clacton Town Partnership, last week said he was disappointed the council-owned former M&S site had not been included in the latest bid – which he said would “do little to help the main shopping area”.

Harwich mayor Ivan Henderson welcomed the “long overdue” bid for Dovercourt, but said he was not keen on the plan including new homes in Milton Road.