Another Bingo closure, who is to blame?

By Becky Mosley - April 20 2012

Customers of a bingo hall in Selby are left with nowhere to go following its closure last week. Members of the local community feel their lifeline has been taken away from them and it means that now some will not even leave their home.

Walkers Bingo hall was purchased by the district council following a fire at the local leisure centre, the site is intended to become a temporary gym. Ex staff members feel that the council could have considered using one of a number of empty sites in the town for the gym instead of the bingo hall. This would have left customers able to continue to use the bingo hall as their meeting place which enabled them some respite from their day to day lives.

A number of Walkers Bingo customers told the Selby Times of the impact that the closure would make on their lives. 76 year old, Joyce Whitford, finds that the closure of the bingo hall is “absolutely gutting”.  Joyce says:  “The council have left us to wait and die. All I can do is sit in and watch the television now. It’s heart-breaking.”

During the purchase and take over, the staff of Walkers seem to have been upset by the lack of compassion offered by the council as stated in the Selby Times. We don’t have any further information available regarding this unfortunately.

However, Selby District Council leader Councillor Mark Crane said: “Walkers have had the building on the market for a long time. The company clearly had no plans to continue with a bingo hall in Selby and it was an ideal property for what we required. If we hadn’t bought it, someone else would.”

Is this another bingo hall that fell due to the 2007 smoking ban and the recession which followed? With more and more people finding the cost of living very challenging, and making the decision not to go out as much to save money, perhaps this led to the down fall of Walkers Bingo.

Of course it’s terribly sad that customers that have been attending bingo halls are now finding that one by one they are closing their doors after many years in business. Is this now a sign of the times? Businesses sell up for a reason, so if the bingo hall owners cannot continue to profit from opening the doors then it makes no financial sense for them to carry on in this particular business. We have all seen what is happening with retail high street shops now; the town centres are so quiet it makes you wonder how some shops stay open. Larger retail organisations can do this more easily as flagship and larger stores carry the less profitable but you can see how smaller shops really are struggling. But you really do have to believe that a bingo hall would not just close its doors unnecessarily, it may have been running at a loss and as a local councillor stated, the hall had been on the market for a long time, so the seller would have bitten the hands of any buyer.

The main problem in this instance is what resources the local councils are offering their communities. If there really is nowhere for an older or disabled person to go now that a bingo club has closed the council must look into ways of providing an alternative option. It’s unbelievable and very sad to even think that older people who cannot get out of their own houses will not see anyone from day to day and this is what needs to be addressed primarily and should be where the main focus lies.

Due to the economic climate we are all likely to a degree see a change in the businesses and retail units that we visit. It’s very sad when a business has to change and become productive in another way but in the case of Walkers should anyone really be blamed?

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