It could be ‘full house’ for bingo enthusiasts as a new enterprise pushes ahead for a summer opening on the Fylde coast after getting the green light from planners.
There hasn’t been a bingo hall in Fleetwood for eight years but businessman Stephen Ashe is now set to open one on the town’s Station Road.
The former Fleetwood Trawlers Supply premises, more recently a furniture upholstery shop, is now being fully kitted after planners agreed to a change of use from retail unit to bingo hall with food servery.
And the name of the new amenity will be familiar to Fleetwood folk – it’s to be called Barney in homage to the town’s previous bingo hall on Poulton Road.
The old Barneys, officially named Top Ten Bingo, closed eight years ago after it was hit by a deadly assault from the smoking ban and online bingo. But Stephen says the new establishment will be smaller, with less overheads, and better able to cope in the 21st century.
It is hoped the new business, including food provision, will also bring up to 15 jobs.
I think this is just what Fleetwood needs
Stephen, who will be working with operator Newcastle Bingo Ltd, says the new bingo hall will not clash with Blackpool’s popular Mecca Bingo because the two are about eight miles apart and have a different custom base.
He said: “It’s great news that the planners have given things the go ahead.
“We still need to tick the boxes over the premises license and the gaming license but the big one was planning, and the others should follow fairly smoothly.
“We have set up our own Barneys site on Facebook and people can follow our progress there.”
Newcastle Bingo already has similar operations up and running in Newcastle and Farnborough, Hampshire, and there is another in Shotton, North Wales.
Mr Ashe, a 40-year-old Ulsterman who has lived on the Fylde coast for several years, said: “I think this is just what Fleetwood needs.
“Word has got out and people keep asking me when are we going to open. We’ve also got a Barneys Facebook page.”
No exact date has yet been set for the opening but Stephen says it will be in the summer.
Port’s former bingo hall to become flats
The original Barneys Bingo hall was based in Fleetwood’s former Victoria Cinema on the town’s Poulton Road.
Now the premises, one of Fleetwood’s most distinctive buildings, is set to be turned into flats.
The building was bought by Fleetwood-based dredging firm Wyre Marine Services in 2015 with a view to leasing it out to the community.
There were hopes it could become a community hall, with some apartments, and even play host to film nights once again.
But the community element of the plans were dealt a setback when the Fleetwood Plus Community Interest Company (CIC), the group which planned to lead those activities, folded.
The Top Barneys Bingo building has not been used since April 2009, when the Top Ten Bingo operation ceased, with the loss of 15 jobs.
Earlier plans by bingo veteran Rocky Richmond to revive bingo there, in 2010, came to nothing.