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Council drops plans to take over Mecca Bingo site in Ashford town centre

By Aidan Barlow

Bingo bosses say it is business as usual after a council bid to take over its premises was rejected.

Ashford Borough Council (ABC) wanted to take over the Mecca Bingo building in Ashford's Lower High Street, and there are reports that it planned to knock it down.

But the bid was rejected by the landowner last year, and the council now says it has no plans for the site.

Mecca Bingo in Ashford town centre

Mecca Bingo in Ashford town centre

Mecca took on the building in the 1990s, but it was originally built in 1936 as an Odeon cinema.

It was converted into a bingo hall in the late 1970s, and Kentish Express historian Steve Salter said the council had an interest in taking over the site in the mid 1980s.

He said: “There were some plans to knock down the old cinema and build a new shopping centre on the Vicarage Lane car park.

The opening night of the Odeon Cinema, in the Lower High Street, Ashford in 1936

The opening night of the Odeon Cinema, in the Lower High Street, Ashford in 1936

“It was said that the development would be home to a new British Home Stores flagship store, and it was before BHS moved into the former Littlewoods store in County Square.”

ABC spokesman Mark James confirmed the authority had submitted a bid for the site, but the plans have now been dropped.

He said: “We can confirm that we bid for the site towards the end of last year, but we have been advised that this bid was unsuccessful.

“We will not disclose the bid in order to protect our ability to act commercially within the marketplace. We are not purchasing the site so have no plans.”

The Odeon in Ashford in 1974

The Odeon in Ashford in 1974

Meanwhile in a statement, Mecca Bingo said: “We have a lease for the club in Ashford, but we are not involved in a potential change of landlord, which would have no impact, and it is business as usual.”

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