New battle over casino

BATTLE lines are being drawn up over moves to open a casino in Felixstowe town centre – with campaigns launched both for and against the project.

BATTLE lines are being drawn up over moves to open a casino in Felixstowe town centre – with campaigns launched both for and against the project.

Although the word casino is not mentioned in the application to transform the bingo hall and cinema into a £3.2 million "mini resort", the owners have admitted it will contain one if government deregulation of the gaming industry allows.

Earlier phases of the scheme for the Palace in Crescent Road though will see a 52-bedroom hotel built – ready for the casino's clients – along with a health and fitness club, bars, restaurant, and a bingo/entertainments complex.

Last time the scheme was withdrawn before it could be decided because owners Palatial Leisure were upset at the 200 protests sent to Suffolk Coastal council.

This time Felixstowe Town Centre Residents' Association is hoping there will be even more objections – and has sent 1,000 leaflets to residents, shops and church leaders urging them to oppose the project.

Association chairman Mary Wyatt said: "The bingo hall, currently much used, can – as the promoter has admitted – be changed into a casino without the need for a planning application.

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"The opening hours for the casino will not be determined in this planning application so local people will have no control over what may happen.

"Casinos are permitted to open to 4am. Residents may be awoken by gamblers leaving late at night or in the early hours of the morning."

Hotels needed up to five deliveries a day and the proposed site had no off-road parking.

But many people are already expressing support for the project.

Lesley Purnell, who is planning to start a petition in favour of the venture, said Felixstowe desperately needed more quality hotel accommodation for the business community and rooms where seminars and meetings could be held.

"I work in market research and use of a quality meeting room in the town centre would be a huge bonus," said Ms Purnell, of St Andrew's Road.

"Felixstowe needs to be brought into the 21st century and we should welcome this investment in our town. If there is a casino, it will be members only and will not open until 4am – that's scare talk."

Felixstowe resident Lynda Keeble said: "The Palace bingo hall has great plans to bring some life to the town, yet to be opposed again. I strongly feel this would benefit Felixstowe and spice up the boring town we already live in."

Catherine Coone, of Garrison Lane, said: "I am a pensioner and I live alone so it is essential for me to have somewhere to go like the Palace.

"I can have lunch there at a very low cost and I meet people and have a good chat. I go there every afternoon, and I don't know what I would do if it closes."

Peter Marjoram, of High Road, Trimley, said: "I think we should be thankful that somebody is willing to spend a lot of money to improve this site because it basically looks an eyesore in the town centre."

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, or e-mail


CAR parking – or the lack of it – is one of the biggest issues for the proposed hotel and entertainments complex.

Building work will mean that the centre's current 22-space car park will vanish and no new car parking will be provided for customers, the 52 hotel guests or the staff.

An Evening Star survey of the area has shown that when bingo is being played the car park is full every time and many people park in nearby streets.

In the evenings, there is the option of using the 142-space Crescent public car park for free, but on Saturday afternoons this is full to capacity with shoppers and visitors, who would have nowhere to park if hotel guests took it over.

"Shopkeepers will lose out if shoppers cannot park in the centre of Felixstowe and will take their custom to another town," said Mary Wyatt, chairman of the Felixstowe Town Centre Residents' Association.

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