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Businessman's fears for casino in town

PUBLISHED: 08:35 24 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:07 03 July 2010

One of Yarmouth's best-known businessmen has stepped into the debate over where the resort's large casino should be built - claiming it will "kill off" the seafront if it does not go at the heart of the Golden Mile.

One of Yarmouth's best-known businessmen has stepped into the debate over where the resort's large casino should be built - claiming it will “kill off” the seafront if it does not go at the heart of the Golden Mile.

Peter Jay, who owns the Hippodrome Circus and several other prominent buildings on the seafront, insisted that the council-owned site taking in the Marina Centre - already being marketed for development - was the only location for the casino that would not have a “devastating effect on existing businesses”.

Mr Jay warned that because of the lack of car parking on the seafront, businesses there would be unable to compete if the casino licence went to either the £30m scheme being proposed by Pleasure Beach owner Albert Jones for his site next to the outer harbour, or a proposal being mooted for the riverside by Patrick Duffy, owner of the Palace Casino.

Making his impassioned plea in a letter submitted to the borough council as part of its consultation on its casino licensing policy, Mr Jay said determining the location of the large casino - one of only eight to be built in the UK - was the “most important decision the authority will ever make”.

Both Mr Duffy and Mr Jones - the only one to have reached the planning stage - are proposing schemes with attractions such as bars, restaurants, multiplex cinemas and bowling alleys.

However, Mr Jay, who owns the building housing the Hollywood Cinema, said that the chosen scheme should have “ground-breaking, new, quality attractions and not just compete against existing attractions, which it would completely destroy”.

“This is our only chance of getting a truly fabulous Marina Centre scheme with great sports facilities and new attractions for locals and visitors, and our chance to get, say, 500 central car parking spaces that will service this and help the rest of the seafront survive,” he said.

He warned that the positioning of Mr Jones's scheme - The Edge - had another major downside in that it would block any extension to the port area.

Responding to Mr Jay, Mr Jones said: “I think every scheme has got to stand on its own two feet and at the moment we are the only ones to have reached the detailed planning staged.”

Because - despite projected interest - no schemes had yet been submitted for the Golden Mile site, he could not comment on them.

Mr Jones said he believed that the town's tourism economy would benefit from the casino, wherever it went, because it would address the need to extend the season.

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