It would seem sometimes that the plight of bingo halls up and down the country, are being exasperated by the 'powers that be' just for the sake of it. One such case is the recent planning application to build a smoking shelter by Gala Bingo in Wednesbury which has been refused. Gala Bingo had wanted to construct a smoking shelter for bingo players who wanted to smoke so that they could still enjoy their bingo games in the warm and dry.
A recent report featured on the local Express and Star website said that Walsall Council has refused the building application on the grounds that the proposed Gala Bingo outdoor smoking area was 'too flimsy and would interfere with parking'. The Gala Bingo Hall was hoping to follow in the footsteps of other bingo halls who had successfully constructed similar shelters with local government agreement. One such success story is that of the Kidderminster, Shipleys Bingo Hall which installed the first smoking shelter of its kind in 2007 when the smoking ban had first been introduced.
Hopes for bingo hall survival up in smoke?
The shelters are proving to be a huge success with players and feature bingo machines, a heater to help keep bingo players warm in bad weather and loudspeaker system for the bingo numbers to be relayed as well as a special button to inform the caller if a full house is claimed. The Gala bingo hall in Jerome Retail Park, Walsall is hoping that if the special smoking hut is built that they would be able to attract local players once more who have stopped coming since the smoking ban was introduced.
It would seem very unfair that local businesses can install a smoking shelter to satisfy employees urges for a puff on a cigarette yet a bingo playing smoker is refused such a luxury. Given the high rate of tax that bingo halls now have to suffer, surely it is not acceptable that such harsh decisions are made to stand in the way of clubs trying to attract players in a bid to be able to survive. Gala Bingo is currently appealing the decision with the planning inspectorate and they are hopeful that the outcome might be more favourable, however if they are not successful then the Gala Bingo hall is fearful of their chances to survive.