Plans for Ilford town centre bingo hall will be ‘popular’

PENSIONERS have welcomed plans for a new bingo hall in Ilford town centre.

Members of Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum say they would embrace plans for the hall in the borough, as there are not many places to play in Redbridge.

Chris Wilson, chairman of Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum said: “I can see it being a hit with the older population in the borough.

“It’s a game where elderly people can go to meet friends and get out of the house. I am a firm believer in escaping four walls when you get to a certain age.”

He said he believed around 75 per cent of people who play bingo at the Mecca Bingo branch in High Road, Chadwell Heath were pensioners.

The application, made by Able Design last month, is due to go before a planning committee in six weeks.

If agreed, it will see the existing closed down branch of Barclays Bank turned into a modernised ‘electronic’ bingo hall, which uses buttons rather than paper .

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A spokesman for Able Design, acting as agents for the applicant, London Investments, confirmed they had lodged the application, and also that the hall was part of a branch, but it would not be well known bingo chain Mecca.

Pensioner Geraldine Maclaine of South Woodford said: “It’s harmless fun - there are a lot of pensioners I know of who look forward to their weekly sessions. “It’s a way of getting out of the house and meeting new people.”

London Investments placed a similar application for a bingo hall last year, for a disused bank in Romford, Essex, which was approved by a planning committee. Work is due to begin later this year.

When asked if the plan was in response to the number of pensioners in the area, an Able Design spokesman declined to comment, but said: “We hope it will benefit the older community which bingo is traditionally enjoyed by.”