Casino on South Manchester: To Be or Not To Be?

An existing Buckingham Bingo Club at Parr Wood leisure center wants to convert into a casino. Angry are the community leaders when they learn about a casino to open next to a school in Didsbury.

"It's quite inappropriate for a casino to be open when schoolchildren are arriving and leaving. In particular, sixth formers may be tempted into the casino - and into problem gambling - on account of its perceived glamour." Said Association chairman Philip Partridge.

He added: "Didsbury is very much a residential suburb. We believe a casino would radically change its character and the character of the leisure center, which is presently family-orientated. It would also result in 24-hour use of the center, meaning there will be extra traffic and noise for residents in an area that's already busy enough. Our committee very strongly objects to this application."

The casino would be the first of its kind in South Manchester with afternoon and evening sessions running until 6am much of the week. The company also says its market research shows there is demand for a casino in South Manchester. But residents living nearby say round-the-clock gambling will just lead to more noise, traffic and crime.

Here are what some residents about to say about the casino plan.

Jane Martindale of Parr Wood Sixth Form Center, said: "The casino's opening hours may coincide with the school day some of our students will, of course, be old enough to gain access. However, we will ensure that our sixth formers attend lessons as normal and, in free time, use college facilities to study hard and prepare for A-levels.'

"I think it would lead to a Las Vegas-style Didsbury. The opening hours will mean people can gamble for 16 hours a day. There will be no peace fort he people living nearby if this goes on until 6am," said Geoff Bridson, a resident and Didsbury Baptist Church member.

The Salvation Army's north division leader major Chick Yuill said: "Our primary concern is for those whose lives and families will be negatively impacted by increased gambling opportunities. We believe much more research into gambling and its associated problems. Also, far greater support networks are needed for problem gamblers before larger regional casinos are considered."

Kingsway Triangle Residents' Association says it has major concerns about the proposed casino's closeness to Parrs Wood High School and sixth form.

"I'm very concerned; I do not think its appropriate located in a family entertainment center next to Parrs Wood School." commented Councilor Tony Parkinson.

Buckingham Bingo's chief executive Andy Cunningham answered all speculations by, "Bingo will continue to run but on a smaller scale. We are not looking to open a super-duper big casino. We feel there is the demand for this casino, as it actually has the youngest membership out of all 10 of our clubs. We were alerted to the need for this by the younger customers - many of whom have to travel into Manchester for a casino."

He added: "Our customers are well aware of what they have to spend in their pockets. And we are supplying them with a service that doesn't exist in south Manchester. We think a casino will add value to the current site and save people traveling."

Not all the residents oppose with the idea of a casino. Paul Dean, a bookmaker, who has a shop at Fog Lane in Didsbury supports the plan and said: "The gambling industry is a good one. I don't have any objections. If anything, it will mean more jobs in the area. The government has relaxed gambling restrictions with the World Cup. We even have roulette machines in the shop."


Monday, July 24, 2006
Patrick Simons

© 2014, All rights reserved.