THE colonel is offering £20,000 incentives to help search out possible sites for new KFC restaurants in south Essex.

The famous chicken chain is aiming to open dozens of new outlets in Essex by the end of 2020.

It is understood the chain is offering incentives of £20,000 to people who find a new site in their target areas.

Among the target areas are Basildon, Billericay, Hadleigh, Chelmsford and Brentwood, as well as on the A13 at Stanford-le-Hope.

Tens of thousands of people were delighted to receive the breaking news via the Echo.

Christian Cousins, of Hullbridge, said: “Hullbridge would be handy.

“There is a nice closed down charity shop in the village which would be the perfect location for such an establishment.”

Sarah Bridge, of Billericay, was keen to see KFC come to the little town due to a lack of fast food options.

She said: “Come to Billericay. We don’t have any fast food in Billericay apart from pizza and kebabs and stuff, KFC would do well.

“My little ones would definitely be very keen.”

However there were some concerns about the number of restaurants already available.

John Harper said: “More and more fast food coming to the area.

“Don’t we have enough? We have KFC or McDonalds or whatever on every corner and wonder why obesity is such an issue?

“But yes, lets just open a whole load of new restaurants – its not like KFC ran out of chicken before or anything.”

Chistopher Lovelock, of Basildon, said: “So they close one in Basildon town centre years ago and now they want to open a new one in Basildon town centre.”

Areas being targeted by KFC include Stanford-le-Hope, South Woodham Ferrers, Basildon town centre, Basildon West, Billericay, Brentwood, Tilbury, and Chelmsford.

A spokesman for the company said: “We have bold ambitions to have over 1,000 stores in the UK and Ireland by 2020.

“We are looking to build over 50 new stores a year.”

KFC was first introduced to the UK in 1965 with its first branch in Preston, but today it operates 850 outlets in the country with more coming soon.