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Home   Sittingbourne   News   Article

Drama at Bell Centre in Sittingbourne as part of wall collapses and crushes cars

22 December 2013

Daylight has revealed the damage caused when a rear wall at a derelict shopping centre collapsed.

Two Mercedes cars are still at the scene, covered in brickwork from the former Bell Centre, off Sittingbourne High Street. 

A picture from the scene being shared on social media. @SFMRadio

A picture from the scene being shared on social media. @SFMRadio

The area around the collapse has been fenced off and a fire service presence was still there earlier this morning.

Part of Sittingbourne town centre was cordoned off last night following the incident at around 6pm.

It is not yet know what caused the wall to fall down, but there is speculation the bad weather may have been partly responsible.

Three fire engines, Kent Police, and a Swale council structural engineer were sent to the scene.

The back of the former Bell Centre the morning after a wall collapsed

The back of the former Bell Centre the morning after a wall collapsed

Some nearby properties were evacuated but nobody was trapped or injured.

At 6.25pm, the Sittingbourne Sports Bar snooker club was closed down for safety reasons.

The brickwork had fallen onto a fire escape blocking access from the club to the car park.

Owner Chris Forshaw said the business was very busy at the time and the closure meant losing out on takings on the Saturday before Christmas - one of the busiest days of the year.

He said the strong winds had blown protective hoardings down around the centre which had then allowed the gusts to whip through the derelict site, possibly causing the wall to collapse.

The business has been given the all clear and is set to re-open this lunchtime.

The nearby Summoner pub was also evacuated and a fire survey officer sent in to make sure it had suffered no structural damage.

Speaking this morning, duty manager Hannah Downes said customers and staff had been ordered to leave last night but everything was fine and it was "business as usual" today.

The Bell Centre has been derelict for several years but is the planned location for a Travelodge hotel.

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