NEW hopes have been raised for an old derelict bingo hall which has laid vacant for more than a decade.

The old Pitsea bingo hall closed in 2009 and has fallen into disrepair after a number of fires and even squatters taking over the site.

But now Basildon’s Labour council leader Gavin Callaghan has opened the doors to owners SNP Group which could see a deal struck for the council to buy the building and bring it back into public use, with campaigners hoping for a deal to turn it into a community centre.

​Specific details on what any deal could look like are scarce but it is understood the owners are hoping to offload the venue for millions of pounds.

Mr Callaghan would not be drawn on price but did said: “Our door is open to the owners and if the price is right we will consider helping to get this site back into public used and ownership.

“I absolutely want to see it being brought back into public ownership but it’s up the owners to come to the table with a reasonable view about what any deal or price could be.”

Craig Rimmer, Tory councillor for Pitsea South East said: “I understand the council is in talks with the owner of the site, and they have astronomical demands about an asking price from the council: I think we’re talking millions of pounds which I feel is unreasonable.

“I’m pushing the council to be forceful and to consider every option to get this building back into use for the community. I would like to see a community centre at the site.”

​SNP Group boss Umar Hussain said he was unsure about the future of the site but confirmed negotiations were in progress, but refused to make any further comment.

Gala Bingo shut the site in 2009, but the previous Century Cinema dated back to 1930.

The site was badly damaged in a fire last September.