Late-night casino plan is rejected - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Oldbury residents have won their battle to stop a Casino being created at a bingo hall in their street.

Berkshire-based firm Rank Group wanted to open a late night gambling venue at the Mecca Social Club in Halesowen Street.

But householders objected to the proposals which they claim would lead to noise, disturbance and traffic problems.

At a meeting of Sandwell Council's planning committee last week members threw out the application - despite it having been recommended for approval by planning officers.

The club currently operates as a bingo hall which attracts hundreds of people to its nightly sessions.The casino plans would have seen it open for gambling from 2pm to 6am and the creation of up to 80 jobs.

Darnel Cox, who lives in Halesowen Street, said the quality of life of those living near the site would suffer if the casino was allowed to go ahead.

She said: "There is already extensive traffic not just during the day but also at night - it feels like we live on a motorway island."

Mrs Cox said parking was already a problem in the area with visitors to the club parking on double yellow lines and on the dual-carriageway, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to pass.

She said residents also feared there would be an increase in noise as people left the club and from entertainment inside the building.

Graham Murdoch, of Rank, said plans included expansion of the car park and, the building would be insulated for noise.

He said: "I have listened carefully to the concerns, we understand people are concerned - they often think a casino will generate problems.

"But there are strict licences, renewed annually, and any misbehaviour connected to the casino would mean the licence would not be renewed."

He added that security would be stepped up with CCTV cameras which could be extended to cover Halesowen Street while staff would patrol the car park.

Councillors voted to reject the application by a narrow majority.

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