Bingo project sparks massive interest

THOUSANDS of signatures are being collected on a petition in favour of a £3.2 million project to create a new leisure and entertainments complex at Felixstowe.

THOUSANDS of signatures are being collected on a petition in favour of a £3.2 million project to create a new leisure and entertainments complex at Felixstowe.

But councillors and planners take little notice of petitions and say letters giving views and reasons count most. So far they have received 112 letters against and 63 for the scheme to transform the Palace Bingo Hall.

However, petition organiser Lesley Purnell says the signatures show the volume of support for the proposed massive investment in the town.

Ms Purnell said: "We collected 1,000 signatures in the first few days and now that figure is set to be several thousand. We have petition forms in pubs and in the port and people are more than willing to sign because they want this scheme.


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"Felixstowe needs to move forward and this project will provide facilities which the town badly needs."

Suffolk Coastal already has two large files of letters and there is still a week for people to make their views known.

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Palatial Leisure, owners of the Palace in Crescent Road, propose to create a 52-bedroom hotel, with a health and fitness club, bars, restaurant, and a bingo/entertainments complex.

There is no casino in the scheme as this will depend on government deregulation of the gaming industry, but Palatial Leisure's managing director Patrick Duffy says there will be one if the law changes allow.

Town councillors have welcomed the scheme but regret the omission of a cinema and any conference facilities or meeting rooms, which "seriously detract from the potential of the development to enhance the town centre".

The loss of 21 on-site parking spaces and the need for all customers, staff and 52 hotel guests to park in an already-congested town centre is also of concern.

But supporters say the bingo hall provides a social centre for Felixstowe, especially the elderly, who can obtain a cheap meal, company and fun.

John Yelverton, of Queens Road, criticised the "endemic nimbyism in Felixstowe which serves to make the town so "deeply unattractive to visitors" and accused protesters of "ill-informed scaremongering".

Jeremy Moore, of Sea Road, said the town was lucky to have someone wanting to invest and provide new life to an eyesore building.

Marie Moody, of Orwell Road, had visited three of Palatial Leisure's bingo halls, playing with 1,000 people in London. "What struck me most was the atmosphere of friendliness, contentment and good humour together with an absence of any racial tension or ill-feeling," she said.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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