THE TAKEOVER of a popular Canvey bingo hall has fallen through during the final stages.

AJ’s Bingo previously told the Echo it was set to open at the former Rio Bingo Hall in Furtherwick Road in January as they closed in on a deal.

However, Paul Austin, director at AJ’s Bingo, has now confirmed the deal has fallen through and he will no longer be re-opening the bingo hall.

The announcement has been met with sadness from residents who had been looking forward to bingo returning to the island.

In a short statement, Mr Austin, said: “There are things that have come to light and so we can’t continue.

“We have pulled out from taking it over”.

Despite being asked by the Echo, Mr Austin was unable to provide further details.

Rio Bingo Hall, in Furtherwick Road, was sold in May and has remained closed since.

At the time, it was confirmed to the Echo that it had been purchased by a collection of families living on the island.

It was revealed that an unused part of the building was going to be converted into a synagogue, but the main bingo hall was available to rent.

Canvey resident, Debbie Meakin, said: “It was a social meeting place, especially for the elderly on Canvey.

“I was there on the last night and the tears and fears of loneliness was awful. It is a great disappointment.

“Hopefully someone else will apply to re-open it and it can be brought back as a lovely bingo hall again.”

Dave Blackwell, Canvey councillor, and leader of Castle Point Council added: “This is really bad news.

“Rio Bingo was such a good meeting place for friends. For some people it was the only time they went out to meet up.

“The community loved the bingo and will be really upset by this.”

The bingo hall on Canvey initially started out as a community cinema in the 1930s, prior to the Second World War.

Ray Howard MBE, former long-standing Canvey councillor, said: “It is a real shame. I share the disappointment of residents. It is such an important part of people’s lives. They love bingo and I know how that place was so well liked. It got a lot of people who lived alone out and making friends. They loved it so much.

“I am bitterly disappointed it has fallen through.”