Business Owner Complains: Derelict Bingo Hall Is Ruining Business in the Area

Former Bedminster bingo hall causes problems

This week's news included reports of a somewhat unusual complaint expressed by a young shopkeeper in Bedminster, who claims that customers are being put off by the view of a neighboring former Gala bingo hall.

According to 24-year-old Rob McCarthy, the derelict building, which closed down a couple of years ago, should be tidied up if work on a planned redevelopment of the site is not going to begin soon. The works should be conducted by developer Urbis (North Street) Ltd, which should knock it down and replace it with 17 family houses, nine apartments and space for shops and offices.

However, at the moment the building represents a thorn in the side of other inhabitants of the area. As one of them, Mr McCarthy gave his piece of mind about the situation: "It's a bit of a state and it puts people off coming to the area.

"I spoke to someone from the developers Urbis and they said that there wouldn't be someone on site until April.

"It was moved in to last year by a couple of squatters and there were raves and things like that going on.

"Now it is completely empty and it's an absolute state. There are pigeon droppings on the pavement at the front and it's untidy."

Mr McCarthy also added that there are quite a few businesses opening up in the area as of recent, and that the former bingo hall is not doing them any good: "The barber's shop has changed hands, there are a couple of new sandwich shops and cafes up the road and a new music venue,' he said.

"It (the condition of the bingo hall) detracts from the good work elsewhere. Even if it was knocked down it would look a lot better.

"Most of the traders just want to see something happening with it now. Even a lick of paint and a bit of cleaning would make a big difference. It's pretty run-down and the pavement outside is unhygienic.

"Business in the shop is still fairly slow but part of the problem is letting people know we are here, and the same goes for a lot of the other traders around here.

"We are not getting a lot of passing trade," Mr. McCarthy complained.

On behalf of Urbis, its managing director Richard Clarke expressed his agreement with Mr McCarthy's position, calling the hall an "absolute disgrace" and assuring the public that his company is keen to redevelop the site asap.

He also specified that the work on the project will start as soon as planning and legal issues are cleared up with the city council and the site had been purchased by Urbis from owners Gala. According to him, the work will take some 16 months, and he estimated that it will start within the next few months.

"Our first actions will be to demolish the site and clear it up,' he said, adding: "We don't want that building there any longer than it has to be.

"We accept the desire of the traders to have a cleaner outlook.

"We want to start work so people can see what's coming - it will be a boost for the area.

"It's in everyone's interests to have a vibrant area around the site."

In conclusion, he said: "We have spoken to the Greater Bedminster Partnership and they know our intention to revitalise the area."

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