New bid for casino at resort

SEAFRONT residents will soon be living in "Las Felixstowe" as the resort looks set to get a casino after all as part of a new gambling complex.Although it will never match the 24 hour glitz of Las Vegas where the betting never stops, the firm behind the project feels its odds on to bring in more visitors.

SEAFRONT residents will soon be living in "Las Felixstowe" as the resort looks set to get a casino after all as part of a new gambling complex.

Although it will never match the 24 hour glitz of Las Vegas where the betting never stops, the firm behind the project feels its odds on to bring in more visitors.

Planning officers have only just received the application for the project but are unlikely to object to it.

Last month proposals to transform the resort's cinema and bingo hall into a £3.2 million "mini resort" including a casino, hotel and conference facilities were withdrawn after residents in the town centre objected.


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But the new project will be well away from those residents who complained and will be in the area designated for tourism and leisure.

Businessman Stan Threadwell has submitted plans to Suffolk Coastal council to turn the Regal Complex in Sea Road – which sits alongside the bright lights of arcades and the amusement park – into a casino.

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His company SMT Amusements Ltd is preparing the ground for when the government approves its plans for the reform and relaxation of the gambling laws, which is expected to lead to the opening of many casinos.

The company wants to change the first floor of the building to a casino for black jack, roulette and other gambling games and a bar, extend the slot gaming floor and ground floor restaurant. There would be a betting shop instead of a fish bar.

It will be for adults only and aimed at attracting people to the town to enjoy an evening or weekend playing the tables.

Tourism campaigner Norman Thompson, secretary of the Felixstowe Pier Trust, welcomed the casino scheme.

"This is the sort of attraction Felixstowe needs – people want experiences, something modern and different," he said.

"It is all very well spending £1 million on the gardens, but that will not bring people to the town and we should be maintaining the gardens anyway as part of the activity of looking after the town.

"The government has said that seaside resorts must reinvent themselves and look for 52 week a year attractions and this will fit into that thinking.

"I think the seafront is the ideal position for a casino and I am sure the residents who objected will be pleased as that was where they suggested it should be."

Felixstowe Town Council's plans committee recommended approval of the project in principle, but refused the betting shop application which it was felt inappropriate for a tourism area aimed at families.

The council said the casino should not open later than 1am Monday to Thursday and 2am Friday to Sunday.

The planning applications will be decided by Suffolk Coastal council within the next eight weeks.

N What do you think of the idea of a casino? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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