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Mecca Bingo Ashford to close

By Aidan Barlow

Bingo hall bosses say they are ready to call time on their venue after a steady decline in fortunes for the business.

Mecca Bingo has been operated as part of the Rank Group at the Lower High Street in Ashford.

The company says it is consulting with its staff about the closure of the bingo hall, and says it will also consult its customers.

Mecca Bingo in Ashford.

It follows speculation towards the end of last year that Ashford Borough Council is interested in purchasing the site and knocking down the rear of the building.

Earlier this year the council said its bid for the site had been rejected, but following a meeting of the town’s Economic Regeneration and Investment Board, it reiterated the authority’s intent to buy the land.

According to the council the land could be purchased with vacant possession in September this year, but Mecca Bingo has not yet confirmed a closing date.

The entrance in the High Street.

Mecca operations director John Dyson said: “It is with regret that we are consulting with the team in Mecca Bingo Ashford on the closure of this business.

“Admissions have been in long term and consistent decline and we are no longer operating profitably.

“We will be working with all our team members in Ashford to help them at this difficult time; including investigating other potential opportunities within the Rank Group.

“We have many customers who will share our sadness with this news.”

Mr Dyson added that customers can still visit bingo halls in Sittingbourne and in Thanet, or play online.

St Mary's Church is obscured by the building.

Ashford Borough Council’s senior commercial development manager Stewart Smith said the site could become a “focal point” for transforming the town centre.

It could include the redevelopment of the Vicarage Lane car park, and the demolition of the bingo hall so that a view of the church is restored.

The former cinema frontage in the High Street would be kept, but the authority is keen to open up the area, which is currently served by a narrow and “dingy” alleyway.

Possible options may also include the construction of a multi-storey car park behind the Hollywood Bowl in Station Road.

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