A BOWLING alley at an iconic seafront building has closed suddenly after its owners went into administration.

MFA Bowl, based at The Kursaal, on Southend seafront, put up a sign about the closure yesterday.

The sign says: “This site is now closed for business. We would like to thank our customers for all their support and apologise for any convenience this closure may cause.”

London-based consultancy firm Duff and Phelps has stepped into handle MFA Bowl UK’s administration.

Philip Duffy and Allan Graham, both of Duff & Phelps, have been appointed joint Administrators of MFA Bowl Limited on February 13.

The company has 12 sites across the UK.

The sudden closure has been met with speculation and concern from councillors and residents.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal ward said: “This is an iconic symbol of Southend.

“I think it’s a sign of the difficult times our seafront businesses are experiencing.

“I know traders struggle with business rates and people being put off by crime.

“I think it’s a blow to the town just before peak season for seafront traders.”

Martin Terry, independent councillor for Thorpe, pointed the finger at the planned Seaway development, which is set to bring a 20-lane Hollywood Bowl as well as restaurants, cafes, an 11-screen Empire Cinema and an 80-room Travelodge Hotel if approved.

Mr Terry said: “I think the firm wrote to Southend Council about its concerns with the development.

“I believe this is linked to the Seaway development.

“We are losing jobs in Southend before new jobs have even been created at Seaway.”

But John Lamb, Tory leader of Southend Council hit back at the claims.

He said: “These are outlandish claims and untrue.

“It is wrong this closure is down to the Seaway development.

“Nothing has been built yet.”

Philip Duffy, joint administrator, said: “Since appointment we have been trading the business as a going concern while in parallel we have marketed it for sale.

“While we have been unable to find a buyer for all 12 sites we are confident we have a buyer for part of the business.

“As a result it has become necessary to mothball a number of sites, which were closed.”