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Casino boss told permission 'not needed'

PUBLISHED: 23:49 22 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 March 2010

TOURIST attractions owner Stan Threadwell has been told he does not need planning permission to create Felixstowe's first ever casino.

More than 500 people have protested over the project, calling on Suffolk Coastal councillors to put a stop to it.

TOURIST attractions owner Stan Threadwell has been told he does not need planning permission to create Felixstowe's first ever casino.

More than 500 people have protested over the project, calling on Suffolk Coastal councillors to put a stop to it. But there is nothing they can do.

Residents don't want to lose the gym and fitness suite which currently occupies the first floor of the Regal Complex in Sea Road, and fear a casino will lead to more late-night problems.

Planners say the casino needs no permission, but Mr Threadwell will need consent for structural work to allow the gambling centre to open – and they are recommending councillors give the go-ahead.

His company SMT Amusements Ltd wants to create a bar and a balcony area as part of the upmarket casino for blackjack, roulette and other gambling games.

It also wants to add a new foyer to the downstairs area, which currently includes a coffee shop, restaurant and adult amusement centre.

A report to next Thursday's south area development control sub committee says a 360-signature petition and 147 letters of objection have been received from residents fearing noise, traffic problems and rowdy behaviour.

The West End of Felixstowe Residents' Association said: "The committee cannot help but compare the benefits to be derived by members of the community from the existing popular health and fitness centre with those of an intended casino. It would be a pity to close the former for the latter."

Councillors are recommended to allow opening from 12 noon to 1am weekdays and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Fitness centre owner Allison Swann fears all her hard work and investment will count for nothing – and has vowed to fight the casino until the end.

She has built up membership from 50 to 800 within two years, investing £80,000 in new equipment.

Miss Swann, of Brightwell Close, Felixstowe, said she works up to 15 hours a day and does not expect to start making a profit until the end of the four-year lease when she has paid off the loan for the equipment.

She took on the lease in the expectation of it being extended when it expires in September next year and was devastated when she heard about the casino.

"It would be like saying I have worked four years for nothing. I am not going to leave without a fight and I would chain myself to the door if I had to," she said.

Mr Threadwell has told the council Felixstowe needs to provide more interesting facilities if its leisure business is to remain competitive and attract both resident and visitor participation.

"The provision of such gambling facilities in Felixstowe is vitally necessary to improve its competitive status," he said.

"Whilst efforts are being made to regenerate, the need for up-to-date attractions for modern society are vital if the town is to attract and sustain business."

n What do you think – does Felixstowe need a casino? Write to Evening Star letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk


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